"Informal Early Feedback" (IEF) is a way to get information from your students about your teaching and their learning. It is done during the course of the semester, rather than at the end. In the Department of Mathematics, IEF is usually done as a questionnaire filled out anonymously by the students and read only by the instructor. The advantages of IEF are:
- You may learn some things about your teaching which would not otherwise have come to light.
- You will get feedback early enough in the semester that you can make changes, if you feel changes are warranted.
- You may uncover some misunderstandings your students have and be able to discuss these with the students.
- The process can improve student attitudes by demonstrating that you value their opinions.
Click here for a copy of the "Informal Early Feedback" (IEF) form used by the Department of Mathematics. If you wish, you can add questions to the form or make up your own form specific to the class you are teaching.
Instructions for Informal Early Feedback (IEF) Form
- TAs in the Mentoring Program -- Schedule a 20 minute IEF conference with your mentor. If at all possible, it should be within a day or two after you hand out the IEF forms.
- Allow for approximately 10 minutes of class time, preferably at the beginning of class.
- Tell the students the purpose of the IEF questionnaire:
- All TAs in this department receive feedback at the end of the semester. However, you wish to receive feedback sooner than that, in order to help you assess how you are doing in the classroom now.
- By receiving helpful feedback from your students early in the semester, you may be able to make changes that will be beneficial to them.
- Assure the students of anonymity - tell them not to sign their names.
- Hand out the IEF questionnaires and go over the instructions, telling them to circle the number of the item that best represents their perceptions. If your class is a discussion section, ask the students to rate you, and not the professor. Remind them of the things over which you have control. Ask them to address these only.
- Encourage them to take time in answering the open-ended questions; some of the best feedback comes from these answers.
- Thank the students for their help. You can stay in the room as they complete the forms, located so you can't see what they're writing. Have them place the completed forms face down on a nearby desk. When time is up, place the forms in a folder or envelope and begin class.
- Do not look at the forms until after class.
- Do a frequency distribution and calculate a mean for each scaled item on your IEF. Also, list and categorize the responses to the open-ended items. Please bring these materials with you to the IEF conference with your mentor.
- At the next class meeting, after the IEF conference with your mentor, tell the students that you read the forms and thank them for their help. Select one or two areas that you wish to discuss with them. If you're making changes, you can let them know that. If not, you can use the opportunity to remind them of the reasons for your policies, etc. It can also be very helpful for students to hear how their classmates responded to some of the questions, such as the pace or difficulty of the course.
After reading the instructions, please make enough photocopies for the classes you are teaching and ask the students to fill them out anonymously. The evaluations are for your use only and the results are not reported to anyone else. Your mentor will be contacting you to set up a short meeting to discuss how you can use the evaluation results to improve your teaching.
You can find more thoughts on the use of IEF at the Center for Teaching Excellence website http://cte.illinois.edu/teacheval/ief.html.
Please contact Karen Mortensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.