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4 Connections: Check In Regularly


Checking in on our students can - and should - have many different meanings. We check in on their learning by using formative assessment; we check in on their experience of the class with surveys and evaluations; we check in on their physical, emotional, and mental health through observations, conversations, and inquiry.

But getting this feedback from students - whether they be the answers in low-stakes quizzes, or comments on a survey - is only half of this 4 Connections best practice. The key piece in engaging students and helping them succeed is what we do with the information we get from checking in.

One tool that I’ve been using for years is the Critical Incident Questionnaire. This is a classroom evaluation tool that may be used to find out what and how students are learning. The CIQ focuses on critical moments or actions in a class, as judged by the learners.  Beneath each question, a space is provided for learners to write down whatever they wish. The CIQ is handed out about ten minutes before the end of the last class of the week.  The five questions are always the same and students are asked to respond anonymously.

The CIQ has many advantages including alerting us to potential problems before they arise, encouraging student reflection, and giving us opportunities to reflect on and adapt our teaching.

A key component of the CIQ is the instructor response. The author of this tool, Dr. Stephen Brookfield, recommends taking 10-15 minutes every week to address student feedback - acknowledging that you’ve heard your students voices.

Depending on what tools you use and what you learn, you may want to make connections with Student Services - the Learning Commons, Career Services, Counseling and Advising, or any of the other many resources available to students on campus and at a distance.


There are innumerable ways to check in with your students and many of them won’t feel like checking in at all. Casual conversations with your students as they take their seats in your classroom can reveal a lot about their reactions to class content or their mood for the day. Polling tools like Mentimeter or PollEverywhere can provide the same insight into student learning as a quiz but with no stakes or the accompanying anxiety.

The key to checking in is doing something with the information you learn from the check-in. For example, if a check-in reveals that most students are understanding a concept, you might add additional learning opportunities to the schedule. Are students stressed? Consider how you might change up your plan for the day to take some of the pressure off and allow them to clear their minds so they’ll be prepped for learning. 

First Day Survey: Check in with your students before you even meet with them by sending out a confidential survey. Learn how many courses your students are taking; whether they have jobs or other responsibilities at home; what their goals for your class are; whether they have experience in the subject/topic already. Provide an opportunity for students to share additional information if they so like.

Send updates and respond to feedback: Making sure that your students receive responses to their feedback can be a challenge, especially if you don’t meet with your classes. Many faculty have found that tools like Remind (which allows for two-way text-based communication), Discord, or GroupMe are more effective for communicating with students than emails or Blackboard updates.

CATs: Experiment with classroom assessment techniques (CATs) in order to find the approaches that provide you with the most insight into student understanding. Angelo and Cross’s Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for Faculty is a noted resource for CATs of all types (muddiest point, minute-papers, 3-2-1, etc.) and you can find many of their examples online with a quick search for “classroom assessment techniques.” 


Tools for Checking In

Checking In and Getting to Know Your Students

Checking in Online

Getting Feedback

Wellbeing Check-ins

Don’t forget to check in with yourself!

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  • Last Updated: Jun 5, 2022 7:52 AM
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