Forward FOCUS Frequently Asked Questions

Forward FOCUS Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to use the Forward FOCUS?

If your department has chosen to use Forward FOCUS as the departmental option for student evaluations, you are required to use the Forward FOCUS (without modifying or deleting questions) and to submit the student responses to your department.  See our departmental guidelines page for more information on the use of Forward Focus as a departmental option.

Individual faculty in departments that have adopted SRTI as their departmental option may continue to use Forward FOCUS. This participation in Forward FOCUS is voluntary and confidential; the anonymous student responses are available only to the faculty member teaching the course. We suggest not overlapping implementation dates of the SRTI and the Forward FOCUS.

How can the Forward FOCUS benefit me and my students?

The Forward FOCUS is designed to get specific feedback from students on course activities and experiences and to inform the instructor about ways to redesign or “tweak” the course as it is taught in the future—whether face-to-face or online. Students give feedback on how valuable they found different course activities, what they learned, what was helpful in supporting their learning, what changes they would make, and what activities or tools in the course worked well for them. In addition, this survey also gives students an opportunity to reflect and share their experiences. Student reflection on their learning process helps solidify learning for long-term gains (Ambrose et al., 2010).

 

Does the CTL send the Forward FOCUS to my students?

No. The instructor must 1) import the survey into their course (if Moodle or Blackboard) and 2) notify their students about the survey, provide students with the link to the survey, and tell students by when to complete the survey (usually 2 weeks is recommended).

 

Is the survey anonymous?

Yes. The Forward FOCUS surveys for Moodle and Blackboard are set to be anonymous.

 

Can I modify Forward FOCUS?

If your department has chosen to use FOCUS as their departmental course evaluation, you may not modify or delete questions on FOCUS. Please see departmental guidelines page.  

Instructors who are using the FOCUS as a supplement to their departmental course evaluations (e.g., SRTIs) may modify FOCUS. You can customize the survey to get targeted feedback from your students. We suggest that you replace existing questions and/or delete questions that are not important to your teaching/course. For tips on modifying existing questions, view these guidelines. You may also reach out to ffocus@umass.edu for individualized assistance in designing effective questions and customizing FOCUS to meet specific goals you have for your teaching.

I don’t teach in Moodle or Blackboard. How can I get access to the Forward FOCUS?

We suggest that you create the anonymous survey in a survey platform with which you are familiar. You can find the Forward FOCUS questions in this PDF of the survey. In addition, we have created a Google Forms version of the survey. Click on “Make a copy” of the survey to save a copy of the Forward FOCUS to your Google Drive.

To set up a Form to be anonymous:

  1. Open the form you created. 
  2. Select the Settings tab. 
  3. Under settings, expand the Responses section. 
  4. Under responses, confirm that "Collect email addresses" is toggled OFF.
  5. Under responses, confirm that "Restrict to users in UMass Amherst and its trusted organizations" is toggled ON.

To disable notifications of new responses:

  1. Open the form you created. 
  2. Select the Responses tab. 
  3. On the Responses tab, click the 3 vertical dots. 
  4. On the dropdown menu, uncheck Get email notifications for new responses. 

If you have questions about the different types of survey tools you can use or how to make the Forward FOCUS available to your students, contact instruct@umass.edu.

How can TAs in my course send the Forward FOCUS to their students?

As your options depend on how your course is set up, it is best to have the instructor (or a lead TA) contact instruct@umass.edu or drop-in to their daily Faculty Support Zoom sessions open Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm.

I teach four classes, but I only want to use the Forward FOCUS in one class. How do I do that?

Moodle: You can decide the specific classes in which you want to use the Forward FOCUS. Only import the FOCUS into the Moodle course site(s) for which you wish to use the Forward FOCUS. There is no need to request or register for the Forward FOCUS. This video walks you through the import process for Moodle in the Cloud.

Blackboard: Starting in Fall 2021, the Forward FOCUS will be available to all instructors teaching in Blackboard. There is no need to request or register for the Forward FOCUS; simply follow the instructions in the Blackboard PDF guide.

How do I access my Spring 2021 Forward FOCUS responses?

To access Spring 2021 Forward FOCUS responses on Moodle, instructors must visit the Legacy Moodle site (https://moodle.umass.edu/). They can follow these Moodle instructions to download responses.  Instructions to download responses in Blackboard can be found here.

How do I see student responses?

Once you have closed the survey to students, you can view student responses directly in Moodle or Blackboard or download as .csv files. See the last section on “Viewing Your Responses” in the corresponding guide; or read these instructions for downloading responses in Moodle and Blackboard.

In addition, we strongly suggest that you consult with us as you make sense of student responses and think through what that means for future iterations of the course. You can email ffocus@umass.edu or fill out this consultation request form.