Small Group Instructional Feedback

Please find below answers to some of the common questions about Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF).

What is Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF)?

A Small Group Instructional Feedback session is a formative mid-course check-in process for gathering information from students about their learning experience in a course. The process is anonymous, facilitated by a neutral party from the Faculty Development Center (FDC), and designed to foster personal reflection and constructive communication between students, their classmates, and the instructor.   

What are the benefits of SGIF?

Research has shown that SGIFs can produce a number of benefits for instructors and students, including: 

  • Concrete suggestions for instructors and students that can improve the teaching and learning experience as the course is in-process; 
  • Increased student motivation as students see the instructor’s interest in teaching and understand they share responsibility for the outcome of the course; 
  • Raised awareness of student concerns in a low risk setting, with time to implement changes before Student Opinions of Instruction (SOI) evaluations are administered. 
What happens during a SGIF session?

There are three components in the SGIF process: 

In the pre-session consultation conversation, the instructor and FDC facilitator confirm the date and time for the SGIF and follow-up consultation and identify key areas of interest to explore. 

During the SGIF, the instructor introduces the facilitator and then leaves the class for a period of 30 minutes. The facilitator engages the class in individual, group, and collective feedback activities that address three questions:  

  • What components of this course have been most helpful to your learning?  (this question reveals what you should keep doing) 
  • What components of this course have hindered your learning, if any? (this question reveals what you might consider stop doing) 
  • What specific modifications could you or the instructor make to help you learn more effectively?  (this question identifies actionable suggestions for improvement) 

The facilitator asks the class to prioritize their responses and express their level of agreement on the collective responses, which are recorded. 

In the post-session conversation, the FDC facilitator and instructor meet to discuss the results and develop strategies to continue with the current practices that are working well, and make concrete changes to those practices that are not as beneficial. At the next class session, the instructor follows up with the class for 5-10 minutes to thank them for their feedback and share any changes they can expect. 

What is the best time in the semester to conduct a SGIF session?

A SGIF session serves as a mid-semester check-in so the “SGIF Season” ideally takes place between the 6th and 8th week of the semester. This timing allows for enough shared experience to generate useful feedback, and enough time remaining to implement positive changes. The FDC asks that you request a SGIF with at least 2 weeks’ notice to allow for scheduling. 

How are SGIF sessions different from Student Opinions of Instruction?

Unlike the SOI results, which are a summative student evaluation of a course that are used in the faculty retention, promotion and tenure process, the SGIF results are formative feedback with the goal of improving the teaching and learning experience before the end of the semester. Faculty have complete control whether or not to share SGIF feedback with others.

Are results confidential?

The FDC is not involved in the retention, promotion and tenure review processes of any academic programs, and it is at the instructor’s discretion whether or not they share the feedback received through the SGIF process with others, such as their department chair. SGIF facilitators that conduct the SGIFs will not share their observations with any other individuals besides the instructor, including Furman administration, other instructors, staff, or students. SGIFs are generally confidential, though an exception is made if information surfaces that reflects emotional, psychological or physical danger or threat of danger to students or faculty. 

How can I request a SGIF session?

It is recommended that you schedule your SGIF with the FDC early and include its date and time in your syllabus. Even if you haven’t scheduled it yet, it would be a good idea to include it in your syllabus and emphasize the importance of mid-term feedback to your students. 

Our process begins with a consultation conversation initiated by a completed consultation request form. There is an opportunity to indicate your interest in a SGIF on that form by requesting a new consultation appointment. Please provide us with at least two weeks’ advance notice and we will make every effort to accommodate your request, based on scheduling availability. 

Where can I find more information on SGIF?

For more information about SGIF and its educational benefits, you might consult these references: 

  • Clark, J. & Redmond, M. (1979). Small Group Instructional Diagnosis: Final Report. Washington University, Seattle. 
  • Crow, R., McGinty, D., LeBaron, J. (2008). The Online Small Group Analysis (OSAG): Adapting a Tested Formative Assessment Technique for Online Teaching. MountainRise, the International Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Summer (1-19). 
  • Diamond, M. R. (2004). The usefulness of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 217-231. 
  • Hurney, C. A., Harris, N. L., Bates Prins, S. C., & Kruck, S. E. (2014). The impact of a learner-centered, mid-semester course evaluation on students. Journal of Faculty Development, 28(3), 55. 
  • Maurer, D. (2016). Small group instructional feedback: A student perspective of its impact on the teaching and learning environment (Ed.D.). George Fox University. 
  • Millis, B. (1999). Three practical strategies for peer consultations. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 79, 19-28. 

*Information courtesy of San Francisco State University.