January 31, 2020

Mid-quarter Evaluations

Hope everyone’s quarter is going well! As we approach the mid quarter, I encourage you to consider doing mid-quarter evaluations.

TL;DR: Most TAs should do it! It’s minimal effort on your end, while the feedback benefits all parties. See what other TAs have to say at the end of this post!

UPDATE for Spring 2020 (and all remote quarters): Due to online teaching this quarter, some of the options listed here won’t apply. However, the adjustment can be minimal and you can still collect students’ feedback!

Detailed Info:

  • What are mid-quarter evaluations? These are simple, short questions/surveys to collect feedback from your students, as a way of checking in on how things are generally going. A sample can be found here. Everything is anonymous and confidential — only you and I will have access to the anonymous students’ feedbacks, nothing is shared with your instructor or the department.
  • Why should YOU do them? Besides making your job easier by focusing your effort on what’s most effective for supporting student learning, you get some documentation of how your teaching is working, and this could serve as a great way to establish your teaching portfolio, or (if you’re willing to share) it could be great material for your recommendation letter writers!
  • What is involved in the process? There are few options: I can send you a link to a form, and (1a) you can send this your students or (1b) save a few minutes at the beginning of your lab/quiz section for students to fill this out (while you wait outside the classroom); (2a) I can drop by your quiz/lab section and administer this survey; if you request it, (2b) I can drop by your section, observe your teaching for a few minutes, and then administer the survey to your students. Everything should take no more than 15 minutes, easy! My recommendations:
    • If you’re only holding office hours (i.e. you don’t have an official “section”), you can choose option (1a)
    • If you’re leading a quiz/lab section, option (1b), (2a), or (2b) is good
    • If you’re leading a quiz/lab section AND are a new, relatively inexperienced TA, I encourage you to pick option (2b)
    • For (1b) (and 2a/b), I recommend asking students to form groups and come up with feedback as a group — this encourages more constructive (less extreme or vague) suggestions and it’s also more time-efficient.
    • While theoretically you could get responses through any of the methods above, 1b and 2a/b tend to be more effective in response rate, since the students are already in the classroom; 1a makes it easier for them to forget/ignore your email.
    • In the remote setting: you are not physically there, so you won’t even have to “leave the classroom.” You can use the breakout room feature in Zoom to let students discuss and submit their feedback as a group that way. I would also be happy to help drop by virtually and facilitate — just let me know!
    • After this is done, I’ll discuss the feedback with you and we can figure out together how to respond. Usually there’s at least something you can tweak, but it’s also okay if there are aspects out of your control. Or if everything is going well, it’s also great to tell the students that you’ll keep doing it! Overall, it’s good to acknowledge that you are listening to the students’ concerns and working towards a better learning experience.
  • How does this help students? Often times, students have concerns they cannot voice until the very end of the quarter through formal evaluation forms, or they are simply too shy/intimidated to say something. This offers them a good way to give feedback early, while there’s still time to make changes in the course. This process is especially important in our core/introductory classes (ECE 2xx) as their early impression can significantly affect students’ impression of the major. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep it positive and attract as many students to our major as possible!
  • What are cases when it’s NOT useful to do mid-quarter evaluations? When you haven’t interacted with enough students in person, the feedback you get might be lacking, or there simply won’t be enough data points to infer anything useful. It also won’t be good to collect feedback and then not addressing them in any manner, as it sends the message that students’ feedbacks don’t matter.

Below are some testimonials from TAs that did mid-quarter evaluations previously. Hope you find these useful. As always, let me know if you have questions!

— Trang


Kenneth Shim
Undergraduate TA, ECE 215

I think the mid-quarter evaluations helped to shape the quiz section structure (EE 215) to better suit the student needs. A number of students agreed when they said that I moved pretty quickly through content, and that’s something that I wouldn’t have thought was an issue until I was told. The feedback session/form also helped the students feel more comfortable providing feedback since it’s anonymous. When I addressed the feedback and adjusted my teaching style based on this feedback, I think the students felt more comfortable asking questions and felt more comfortable talking to me in general.



Kevin Everson
Graduate TA, ECE 235

As a first-time TA, receiving feedback from my students via the mid-quarter evaluation was incredibly beneficial in creating a lab environment that worked better for everyone. During the first week of lab and beyond, I often encouraged students to give me feedback on how to improve my teaching, but it seemed that many students are reluctant or too shy to express this feedback face-to-face. In my case, several students requested that I make pre-class announcements, which preemptively caught issues that students were likely to encounter. Not only was it useful to hear the ways in which I could improve, but it was nice to receive reinforcement on the aspects of my teaching which were already effective. During the end-of-quarter evaluations, both the changes that I made as a result of the mid-quarter evaluations and the approaches I was already employing were cited as things that students found helpful.


Sang Sagong
Graduate TA, ECE 233, 235 (multiple times) and PMP 547

The mid-quarter evaluation helped me a lot when I was a TA. I had two different types of the mid-quarter evaluation, by you [Trang] and by myself. I think the mid-quarter evaluation by you gave me more detail feedback from students, so I could recognize what I have to keep and what I have to change in the rest of the quarter. Usually, TAs get feedback at the end of the quarter, which might be a little bit late to improve the lab session for the students in that quarter (even though TA can improve next quarter). However, based on the mid-quarter evaluation, I could immediately improve and meet the demands of the students. Also, the self mid-quarter evaluation is helpful because it is a checklist in order to check whether I am doing well based on generic criteria.


Alvin Cao
Graduate TA, ECE 271 (multiple times) and ECE 215 (multiple times)

Running mid-quarter evaluations was beneficial to pretty much all involved parties. There was a minimal amount of effort needed to run them (about 10-15 minutes at the beginning of one section). I received positive feedback which made me feel like the effort I put into teaching was worth it. I also received constructive feedback that allowed me to make quick, easy changes to my teaching or communication style, without feeling like I was doing a bad job or anything. Sometimes there were also comments about things I couldn’t directly control about the class, but upon sharing those with the professor we were sometimes able to make changes. Lastly, I think students like the idea that there is a head TA, or some force evaluating their TAs – it makes them realize that the department does indeed care about the quality of their education.