What is Forward FOCUS?
Forward FOCUS (Feedback on Course Understanding and Skills) is an end-of-course confidential survey designed to give an instructor concrete and actionable student feedback to aid in fine-tuning courses for optimal student learning and engagement.
Developed by the UMass Center for Teaching and Learning, Forward FOCUS is:
- Forward-looking: Which aspects of the course should remain whether the course is taught face-to-face or online?
- Focused on student understanding and opportunity for skill development: What were the most valuable things that students learned in your course?
- Actionable: Which course activities were most valuable for students this semester? What changes would improve their learning experience?
- Modifiable: You can add, delete, or modify questions to fit your course.
The Forward Focus is a flexible tool. You can use the survey as designed, or add, delete, or modify questions to get the feedback that will be most helpful to you. View our guidelines on how to develop questions for the Forward FOCUS.
Why should I administer Forward FOCUS to students?
The Forward FOCUS is designed to help you get specific and actionable student feedback that you can tailor to your course. This feedback will aid you in fine-tuning courses for optimal student learning and engagement—whether the course is taught face-to-face or online. For Spring 2021, we’ve added an additional item to help you plan forward:
This semester, this course was taught remotely. If this course were taught in a face-to-face format in the future,
which aspects of remote instruction would you like to keep in the face-to-face format (for example, tools, in-class activities,
pre-recorded lectures, Zoom office hours, etc.)? Please briefly explain why.
As always, the Forward FOCUS is optional and confidential—only you have access to the results.
How will I administer Forward FOCUS to students?
You will use Blackboard or Moodle to send the survey to your students:
- Moodle: Using CTL documentation and a brief video for guidance, you will import the survey into your course(s), customize it if you choose, and then administer it to your students as an anonymous survey. The student responses will only be available to you.
- Blackboard: The survey will be added to your course for you. We will notify you once it’s been added to your course, and you can then customize it, and administer it to your students as an anonymous survey. The student responses will only be available to you.
What support will I have to implement the Forward FOCUS?
Before Forward FOCUS administration
- Moodle: Online documentation and video on importing Forward FOCUS into your course; further support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Blackboard: Online documentation on sending Forward FOCUS to students; further support by emailing email@example.com
- Guidelines about when to administer the survey, how to encourage student responses, instructions and suggestions for modifying the survey, and when to close the survey
- Consultations with CTL staff by emailing FFocus@umass.edu
After Forward FOCUS administration
- Online documentation for interpreting student responses
- Workshops and individual consultations on making sense of and summarizing student responses: email FFocus@umass.edu for more information
How will my students benefit from completing the Forward FOCUS?
Students are prompted to reflect on the most important content and skills learned in your course. Reflection on the learning process helps solidify learning for long-term gains (Ambrose et al., 2010). This survey also gives students an opportunity to reflect and share their experiences. We encourage instructors to communicate the purposes of the Forward FOCUS to their students in order to increase the student response rate; See our Tip Sheet or more ideas.
Return to the Forward FOCUS main webpage