Forward FOCUS

Forward FOCUS

Feedback On Course Understanding and Skills

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 & Learning, Forward FOCUS is:

  • Forward-looking: Which aspects of the course should remain in future iterations of the course?
  • 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.

Forward FOCUS is available to distribute to your students through Moodle and Blackboard questionnaires/surveys, or through Google Forms (e.g., for Canvas users).

Administer FOCUS in your course

We have developed the Forward FOCUS for use in different learning management systems at UMass. Choose which option works best for you:

  • MOODLE: You may copy it from a previous course or import a current version using these directions. Alternatively, you may use the Google Forms version of the Forward FOCUS [Log into your Umass Google account for access and then make a copy of the survey to your Google Drive].
  • BLACKBOARDGuide to importing and implementing Forward FOCUS. Please note that for access to the summer versions of the Forward FOCUS, you will need to email your SPIRE Course ID # to ffocus@umass.edu
  • CANVAS: Google Forms version of the Forward FOCUS [Log into your Umass Google account for access and then make a copy of the survey to your Google Drive].

In all versions, you must provide your students with a link to the survey and ask them to complete it. Sending reminders is also helpful, as well as providing them with a deadline by which to complete the survey. For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions

Departmental Administration Information

For departments that have chosen the Forward FOCUS as their department course evaluation instead of SRTI

  • Overview of departmental guidelines and faculty directions for implementation
  • Because all Moodle courses were transitioned to Moodle in the Cloud in Summer 2021, Forward FOCUS responses prior to Spring 2021 (e.g., Fall 2020) can no longer be accessed online. This does not apply to instructors who used Blackboard or another survey platform to administer Forward FOCUS in their courses prior to Spring 2021. 

Learn More about FOCUS

  • Frequently Asked Questions about the Forward FOCUS
  • Guidelines for implementing, modifying, and encouraging students to respond
  • Compare SRTI to the Forward FOCUS [PDF]
  • Tips for interpreting student responses to improve your course going forward
  • For your reference, you can download a PDF of the Forward FOCUS survey questions.

Forward FOCUS in the News

  • UMass Advance leadership team members Ethel L. Mickey, Dessie Clark, and Joya Misra wrote an article for Inside Higher Ed in which the CTL’s Forward FOCUS was mentioned as one way that UMass responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to support faculty equitably.
  • The Forward FOCUS, in conjunction with the voluntary SRTI developed by the OAPA, was one of 5 finalists for the 2020 Innovation Award by the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education.