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A great way to learn about your students–who, where, and how they are; what they’re struggling to understand about navigating remote learning in general, your course in particular; what interests, connects, and challenges them–is to check in regularly and ask them to share their insights.

In a face-to-face setting, this can happen, for example, with a quick check-in at the beginning of class or a “minute paper” or “exit card” at the end. For you, the purpose of these check-ins is to gain insight into student learning, which can help you make important adjustments to your course or provide key clarifications. For students, check-ins provide them a moment of reflection and an opportunity to share with you and build rapport.

The same approach can be used in a remote teaching and learning context. Below are four question sets for checking in with students and one set of “sentence starter” prompts, along with sample instructions. These questions can be used weekly, biweekly or even as a midterm student survey. Students can answer anonymously, and they can be used as part of a participation grade (note: anonymous surveys in Canvas will tell you who completes the survey but won’t tell you who shares what). If you offer a student survey to “mark the midpoint” of your course, discuss the results and possible course changes with your students.

At the very bottom is a file you can upload to Canvas with all the question sets (alternately, you can build a survey from scratch in Canvas and copy and paste the questions you want; an editable Word file with the questions is found here). These are just a few possible ways to check in with students. If you have any additional ideas to share, please leave them in the comments!

Sample Instructions

Hello,

I’d like to check in about our class and hope you’ll take a minute or two to share some quick insights about your learning experience this past week. In writing your answers, please be as specific as possible–this helps me identify areas for possible change or more clarification. My goal is to make adjustments as we move along, based on our collective experience in this remote teaching and learning environment.


Your responses are anonymous; Canvas will only know if you completed the survey or not. However, if you would like a personal reply or need to share something specific that I should know about your learning experience, please email me directly through Canvas or at my email address.

Thank you for you sharing!

Learning Experience – Option 1

  1. What is helping you engage with others and learn in this class?
  2. What do you find challenging about engaging with others and learning in this class?
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how we can improve engagement and learning in this class?

Learning Experience – Option 2

  1. What is helping you to learn in this class?
  2. What are you doing to improve your learning in the class?
  3. What changes are needed in this class to improve learning?
  4. What do you need to do to improve your learning in this class?
  5. Do you have any additional thoughts about the class you want to share?

Learning Experience – Option 3

  1. What should we keep doing in the class?
  2. What should we quit doing in the class?
  3. What should we start doing in the class?

Learning Experience – Option 4

  1. What did you get from class this week that helped you learn?
  2. What do you still need to help you learn?

Content Learning Option

  1. The most significant thing I learned in class this week is…
  2. The thing I found most confusing in class this week is…
  3. The one thing we learned this week I would like to know more about is…
  4. A question about this week’s material I have is…

Import a Weekly Check-In Survey to your course.

– First, download the question sets above using this link (download entire Zip file) and remember where you save the file.
– Next, upload to Canvas by going to Settings in your Canvas course and select “Import Course Content” (either on the right or bottom of your window)
– Under “Import Content,” choose as the Content Type “Canvas Course Export Package”
– Choose “Browse” and retrieve the file you downloaded above (“Student Check In Surveys.zip”)
– Select “All Content”
– There are no due dates yet so no need select “Adjust events and due dates”
– Click Import. The check in surveys will all load into your course under “Quizzes” as unpublished content (look for “Weekly Check In – Option 1,” “Weekly Check In – Option 2” and so forth)
– Open the survey you want and then edit as needed for your course (you can mix and match questions or change or add questions as you want)