Check-In With Students

Check-in – CC0 Public Domain
Check-in – CC0 Public Domain

There are many benefits to deploying a check-in exercise with students during the semester. Soliciting input from students can influence the students view as it relates to their roles as members of the learning community. This type of targeted feedback can also be valuable for both students and instructors about the learning and teaching that is taking place.

What do you want to learn about?

Faculty should ask themselves what they want to learn more about. When creating the questions to assess students consider the different areas about the type of information that you hope to gather. It might be helpful to revisit the course outcomes and the strategies that were implemented to determine what input from students would be the most helpful.

Also consider questions that encourage students to be specific and self-reflective. Some examples include:

  • What is working well for you in this class? 
  • What are you struggling with? 
  • What is helping you learn? What is not working? 
  • What could the instructor change to improve your learning experience in this class? 
  • What could you do differently to improve your learning experience in this class?

Faculty might also consider a series of Likert scale questions (1-5 with 5 = Strongly Agree and 1 = Strongly Disagree):

  • I am engaged in class
  • I learn the most from the lectures
  • I learn the most from the textbook
  • I am worried about my performance in this class
  • Technology has made this class challenging
  • I understand what I need to do well in the class

This type of information can be collected in the number of ways. For example, a quiz created in the LMS or a survey tool like Qualtrics or Google forms.

Share the responses

An important part of this process is to share the findings with the students in class. When results are reported back to students, this signals that their ideas have been considered and emphasizes that their time and thoughtful feedback is appreciated. Faculty value the students’ time and place an elevated level of importance on this exercise.

Look for the positive things that students have shared. It is important to know what is working well. Then move on to the areas of improvement. 

As the feedback is being reviewed attempt to sort the feedback into different categories. Are there common themes or overlapping comments being made? Identifying patterns can help efficiently make improvements. 

Let the students know that you’ve read the feedback, what you learned and that what you will be adjusting based on their input. Thank students for their comments and invite them for ongoing participation in helping to improve the course. Consider providing an overall summary of common ideas and areas where you’ve identified conflict between student perspectives. Ensure that you’ve provided a brief account of which of their comments are most common as you act upon them and also inform them that updates will be made to the next iteration of the course.

Of course there is no perfect time to deploy a check-in exercise. Many faculty have shared that a midway point of the courses is a good time to do something like this. Other faculty have shared that they do this 2 to 3 times throughout the course depending on a variety of factors.

-RG