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Small Group Analysis

The Small Group Analysis (SGA) is a method of gathering anonymous feedback from students about what is helping them learn and what is not, in a course. This service is provided by the Center for Teaching, and is an excellent way to assess students’ response to your teaching mid-semester.

The SGA has two components: data gathering and consultation. First, to gather data from your students, a CFT consultant visits your class for about twenty minutes, usually at the end of the session. You leave the room, and the anonymous assessment begins, as follows:

Students are asked to get in small groups of 2-5 students, depending on the number of students in the class.

Each group works together to complete a brief questionnaire asking the following questions: “Quickly identify what your group sees as the primary learning objective of the course.” “What aspects of this course and/or the instruction would you identify as most helpful to your learning? How are these aspects helping you to learn in this course?” and “What modifications to this course do you believe would help you to learn more effectively? Why do you believe these changes would improve your learning?”

The consultant then leads the whole class in a discussion of their responses, asking clarifying questions, identifying areas of consensus and disagreement among the students, and eliciting further feedback as students consider each other’s input.

After the SGA, the consultant compiles the feedback into a typed report, assuring student anonymity.

The consultation phase of the SGA occurs at a meeting between you and the CFT consultant, where he or she will share the data gathered with you. Together you will interpret student comments, identify successes and areas for improvement, and plan a course of action to make use of the student feedback, as you see fit. The purpose of this service to assist you in meeting students’ needs for increased learning. The SGA results will remain completely confidential—only you and the CFT consultant will see them.

The feedback students provide about your teaching on their end-of-semester course evaluations can be valuable in helping you improve and refine your teaching. Soliciting mid-semester student feedback has the additional benefit of allowing you to hear your students’ concerns while there is still time in the semester to make appropriate changes. An SGA takes this one step further by involving a CFT consultant to help clarify and decipher the sometimes mysterious comments students make on written course evaluations.

To schedule an SGA, call the Center for Teaching at 322-7290.

If you’re interesting in gathering feedback from your students on your own, please see our “Gathering Feedback from Students” Teaching Guide.