The Mid-Semester Assessment (MSA) offers faculty of all ranks and from all divisions the chance to receive feedback on their teaching and students’ learning. The MSA is an individualized assessment that requires only 20 minutes of students’ time to complete.
Since 2007, the MSA has provided instructors with feedback on what’s working best in the course and in their teaching, feedback on those aspects of the course that could be strengthened and improved (and how to do so), and the chance to implement meaningful change while the course is still in progress.
The MSA is completely confidential from start to finish for both students and instructors. Only the instructor receives the results once the students complete the MSA.
How Does the MSA Work?
There are two MSA formats available:
- In-Class Assessment. An in-class MSA takes place during a regularly scheduled class meeting. In this format, the MSA specialist will solicit feedback from students who work in small focus groups to discuss and provide written answers to three targeted and open-ended questions about the course and the instructor’s teaching. The students produce comprehensive qualitative data.
- Online Assessment. The second MSA format is an online Qualtrics survey which allows each student to offer their opinions by completing a questionnaire that produces comprehensive quantitative and qualitative data.
Instructors teaching courses with fewer than 30 students can choose either MSA format. Instructors teaching courses with more than 30 students will benefit most from the online Qualtrics MSA survey.
Significantly, instructors who have received student feedback via both MSA formats report that they are equally helpful. And, in both formats, the instructor may design an additional question soliciting student feedback on a particular aspect of the course or teaching that the instructor is curious about.
After the students have completed the MSA, the MSA specialist will compile and analyze the results and then meet with the requesting faculty member to discuss them. Finally, the MSA specialist will write a report for the faculty member, synthesizing the results and their implications for the course going forward.
Additionally, we have developed short modules on dealing with the common teaching and learning issues that many Smith faculty encounter. Instructors can access these modules by logging into Moodle and going to the The Sherrerd Center Teaching and Learning Modules. (All faculty are enrolled in this Moodle course.)
For more information, please contact Debra Carney in the Sherrerd Center via email or at 413-585-3035.
DEBRA CARNEY works in faculty development at Smith College as coordinator/specialist of the Mid-Semester Assessment (MSA) Program (and has worked in faculty development at Cambodian universities, funded by Smith College and Fulbright). She has also taught writing and public speaking at Smith College and designed and taught in the writing program of the Smith College School for Social Work. Carney has published both fiction and nonfiction and holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.