Educational Development Digest: October

Pedagogy and Practice

Collecting Mid-Semester Feedback

Many of you are entering into Week 7 or 8 of the semester. You’ve likely covered 2-3 large units or a half dozen online modules and are gearing up for the mid-term. In this preparation, are you planning on asking your students “how has it been going?” Will you reflect on your own answer to this question? The mid-term is an excellent time to check the pulse of the class and get feedback. Here are some suggestions as to how you might check in with students to make adjustments as needed.

Why should I collect mid semester feedback?

Before offering a few strategies, it is important to address why we should spend time doing this. Collecting mid semester feedback models a belief in or commitment to continuous improvement. Asking students for feedback on the course and the applied teaching strategies sends a message that you care about improving your course and your teaching. 

Additionally, this semester and how we are teaching, interacting with our students, and utilizing new technologies is different to some degree for just about everyone. It’d be good to have a check in, give your students an opportunity to share their voices, and see how they are feeling about how it is all going.

Lastly, end of term evaluations and feedback are too late to impact the current course. Collecting feedback now helps to minimize any surprises on the final evaluation and allows time to make adjustments.

How should I collect mid-term feedback?

Here are 4 easy ways to collect mid-term feedback from students. Some require little to no advance preparation while others include a little bit more time and planning. Before employing any of these strategies to collect mid-term feedback, The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University (Marx, 2019) encourages faculty to prepare your students for the activity by stressing “specific, relevant comments that focus on the course and your teaching,” identifying unhelpful feedback (i.e. “stop making this course a requirement”), and sharing how you plan to use the feedback. It is best if the collected feedback is anonymous. This may be more challenging in an online environment and necessitate the use of Microsoft Forms, Google Forms, Zoom poll, or other available tools such as Poll Everywhere.

  1. Stop – Start – Continue

The Stop-Start-Continue strategy is intended to be a quick capture and provide general understanding of students’ preferences. It encourages students “to think constructively about their frustrations in the course, and turn their negative feedback into action” (McGrath, 2014). Ask students these 3 questions:

  • What is one thing you’d like to stop doing in this class?
  • What is one thing you’d like to start doing in this class?
  • What is one thing you’d like to continue doing in this class?

2. PLUS/DELTA survey (Helminski & Koberna,1995)

Unlike the Stop – Start – Continue strategy, the PLUS/DELTA survey asks students to also reflect on their contribution to their learning presented in a grid format. Questions include

  • What is helping me to learn in this class?
  • What am I doing to improve my learning in the course?
  • What changes are needed in this course to improve learning?
  • What do I need to improve my learning in this course?

3. Choose 2-3 of these open ended questions to create your own mid-term evaluation:

  • Which aspect of the course is most/least helpful to you?
  • Are there any suggestion you would like to make about how to improve the course?
  • What I really like/dislike about this course is
  • If I could change one thing about this course, it would be
  • What in the class so far has helped your learning the most?
  • What in this class so far has hindered your learning?
  • What are the strengths of this course?
  • What advice would you give to another student who is considering taking this course?

4. Use or adapt an existing mid-term evaluation template

No need to reinvent the wheel. Many templates include both Likert-style and open ended questions. Several institutions have created templates that are readily available. Check out these 4 to get you started!

What should I do with the Feedback?

Be sure to close the feedback loop with your students. As soon as possible, preferably during the next class meeting, provide a summary of the feedback to the class. This provides an opportunity for students to hear the variety or perspectives and for you to critically reflect on this feedback. Feedback from students is not a mandate to change all things identified by students, but it may provide insight into emerging patterns or themes that may encourage you to make appropriate adjustments. 

How do you already check in with students at mid-semester? Share with Minnesota State colleagues in the NED User Community.


NED Event Highlight

Conversations with Colleagues – October – Voting and the Election

The upcoming 2020 elections present an important opportunity for civic engagement, learning, and action. We invite all faculty to be a part of community efforts to mobilize, educate, and commit to full participation in the 2020 elections.

Join us for this month’s Conversations with Colleagues as we provide an overview of upcoming events as a starting point for sharing ideas and best practices for voter education and engagement. We can continue the conversation about upcoming events at your respective campuses, as well as steps for integrating voter information and activities into your fall courses.

Watch a welcome video from this month’s faculty facilitator Miki Huntingon (Minneapolis College & Metropolitan State University).

What questions do you have about the upcoming 2020 elections? Do you know how the Electoral College works? How can you navigate conversations about in-person voting and reduced and moved polling stations over concerns of virus spread? What are some reliable and non-partisan sources of voter information?

Come to meet new faculty, gather with long-time friends from across Minnesota State, and bring questions and ideas (along with your lunch) to these monthly gatherings that will include conversation starters and an opportunity for both large and small group conversations.

Looking forward to seeing you at our Conversation with Colleagues!

Academic Technology Tips

Changing the Focus with Multiple Camera Feeds in Zoom

Zoom allows for real-time dynamic content switching. With the advanced sharing features, you can direct your participants’ attention to another camera feed, while still being present and continuing to engage with the audience. 

If you don’t have a document camera or an additional USB camera, you can use your smart phone or tablet as an alternative source.

iPhones or iPads that are on the same wireless network can quickly be accessed and shared to enhance the learning experience.  If you have an Android device you can download the Zoom app and join the session through that, allowing full screen sharing access, including the camera application.

Multiple feeds can be used at the same time to give a fuller perspective of the desired content. Zoom now allows hosts to multi-pin and multi-spotlight video feeds to ensure that the relevant content remains prominent when desired even if the video feeds are not broadcasting sound. 

Your Zoom sessions don’t require full video production equipment to switch feeds and offer enhanced effects, but bringing in additional content can help break up the monotony of a single video feed and can take advantage of a the benefits of deeper engagement in the learning process.

Research indicates that there are socio-affective, pedagogical and organizational benefits of using webcams continuously during synchronous sessions, but many online courses only use them in a limited capacity. (Kozar, 2016) Using them effectively requires practice and participant understanding of their effects on the learning environment.  Research has shown how camera angles and framing can influence the audience’s perception, retention, and engagement with specific content (Baranowski, 2018). Other important elements includes having stable images at an eye-level perspectives to help build trust with the audience and improve overall engagement (Guo, 2014). Research has shown that students who keep their webcams activated have been shown to have more frequent and proactive interactions with peers and instructors (Lin, 2019).

If your cameras are not immediately detected by Zoom, you may want to explore some troubleshooting tips regarding camera drivers or security and privacy settings that may be preventing access.

Below we have some additional research that you can explore for more information on video and engagement in learning.


  • Baranowski, A. M., & Hecht, H. (2018). Effect of Camera Angle on Perception of Trust and Attractiveness. Empirical Studies of the Arts36(1), 90-100.
  • Kozar, O., (2016). Perceptions of webcam use by experienced online teachers and learners: a seeming disconnect between research and practice. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(4), 800-810.
  • Lin, L., Hung, I., Kinshuk et al. (2019). The impact of student engagement on learning outcomes in a cyber-flipped course. Education Tech Research Dev 67, 1573–1591.
  • Guo, P.J.,  Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: an empirical study of MOOC videos. Association for Computing Machinery, 41–50.

Initiatives Update

Upcoming OER Deadlines

Z-Degree Project applications are due by 4:00 pm October 16.

The Minnesota State system office held an Information Session on the upcoming Z-Degree Funding opportunity on September 30, 2020. If you weren’t able to attend, view the recording below or find more information on the Z-Degree Project page. 

View the Z-Degree Information Session recording (9/30/2020)

OER Cost Savings Survey 

Minnesota State faculty who used an open textbook (or open educational resources) as a substitute for a publisher textbook last academic year are invited to participate in this survey by completing the cost savings survey form by October 9, 2020

This data is then shared with the Open Education Network (OEN) at the University of Minnesota in a broader effort to calculate the impact of open textbooks nationwide.

Share Your Voice

Share Ideas and Feedback with Academic Technology Vendors

Minnesota State academic technology vendors are looking for your feedback. If you have ideas or suggestions for vendors, let them know: 

  • Zoom: Share ideas, requests, or comments with Zoom.
  • D2L Brightspace: Join the community and visit the Product Idea Exchange to share product and feature ideas and vote or comment on ideas you’d like to see implemented.
  • Office 365: Provide feedback, comments, or share new ideas for Office 365 products.  

Learn more about our academic technologies and find resources on the CATT SharePoint. To chat with colleagues in the system about Zoom, visit the Zoom User Community. To chat with colleagues in the system about Kaltura MediaSpace, visit the Kaltura MediaSpace User Community.  

Upcoming Events

Visit the NED Events Calendar to search for upcoming webinars, learning communities, short courses, and long courses.


Contact Educational Innovations.

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