Stephen Brookfield designed a useful evaluative tool called a "Critical Incident Questionnaire" or CIQ. The idea is to provide students a quick way to provide anonymous feedback to the instructor on course content and presentation. I believe Brookfield suggests offering the CIQ at the end of class every day. In my Foundation Studies courses, I found it useful to use once a week for my class of 24 students. I adapted Brookfied's CIQ to my course and came up with the following questions:

  1. At what moment in class this week did you feel most interested in what was happening?
  2. At what moment in class this week were you most distanced from what was happening?
  3. What action that anyone (teacher or student) took this week did you find most affirming or helpful?
  4. What action that anyone took this week did you find most confusing?
  5. What about class this week surprised you the most? (This could be about your own reactions to what went on, something that someone did, or anything else that occurred.)
(Critical Incident Questionnaire.doc attached, allows for two CIQs per A4, 2-sided.)

I handed out this form on the last day of class each week, allowed students five minutes to fill it out and collected it from them as they left the classroom. Sometimes I read their feedback before the next class, but usually I read the CIQs aloud in front of class at the next session. We discussed the feedback and decided together how to address any issues.

The students enjoyed providing feedback. They knew they could express their thoughts, which would be heard and acted on. At the end of the course, several students mentioned how useful the exercise was.

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Comment by Becca Black on September 8, 2010 at 9:20
You're right, Paul. Moodle is a great way to get student feedback. Thanks for your comments.
Comment by Becca Black on September 8, 2010 at 9:15
I can see where using a Moodle quiz could be useful, but in this case, paper and pen was a better strategy for my class. I printed the CIQ on half-sheets of blue paper (CIQs were the only thing printed in blue) and handed them out to individuals during class as they finished their work. I made it important by paying special attention to each student as I did this. Students turned the CIQs in as they exited, and I thanked each for completing it. (Instant feedback!) Then, at the next class session, I took out the blue sheets and read each one aloud. Brief discussions ensued on some of the points, and we talked about how class could be adjusted to address issues. With about 20 students, this process took only about 5-15 minutes. It was a terrific way to see how I was doing as a teacher.
Comment by Paul Left on September 8, 2010 at 9:15
Simon, I agree - it's a good set of questions. I'm not suggesting using Moodle instead of paper, just thought it might be helpful to clarify that if you want to do it in Moodle it's very easy.

And I agree that setting aside class time for this can be effective, whether they do it on paper or in Moodle. Even if the class is not in a computer lab and the students don't have their own laptops, there are a number of ways you can use an online survey like this other than just say 'complete it in your own time'.
Comment by Simon Nash on September 8, 2010 at 8:48
Becca - this is great, thank you. Diana and Paul both suggest using Moodle or similar as a way to gather this information. This certainly can work (and streamlines processes) although I'm mindful that allowing students to visit to an online survey whenever suits them may mean that they simply never get around to it.....(SEQUAL, anyone?). Certainly if students can see value in providing feedback they may do so, but taking 5 minutes in class ensures that this valuable feedback is collected.
Comment by Paul Left on September 7, 2010 at 18:02
Pretty much the same questions are included as one of the Survey types in Moodle, so you just need to click Add an Activity > Survey then set the type to Critical Incidents.
Comment by Diana Ayling on August 27, 2010 at 11:58
Thanks Becca, this is a good example for teachers' seeking guidance from their students. The questions can be easily turned into a poll, similar to the one on the home page of the Ning. Students can then give feedback at any time during the week. We can walk you through how to do this if you would like to add this simple gadget to your Moodle course. Feel free to ask.

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