Small Group Feedback

What is a SGIF? 

A Small Group Instructional Feedback session is a formative mid-course check-in process for gathering information from students about their learning experience in a course. The process is anonymous and designed to foster personal reflection and constructive communication between students, their classmates, and the instructor so that learning objectives and outcomes can be met successfully.  


Research has shown that SGIFs can produce many benefits for instructors and students, including:

  • Increased constructive communication between students, their classmates, and the instructor with respect to their contributions to the teaching and learning process;
  • Concrete suggestions for instructors and students that can improve the teaching and learning experience;
  • Increased student motivation, since students see the instructor’s interest in teaching and understand they share responsibility for the outcome of the course;
  • Raised awareness of student concerns in a low-risk setting, with time to implement changes before Student Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness (SETEs), are administered.

Assessment Process

  1. Schedule Appointment
  2. Class Surveyed
  3. Teacher Applies Changes


What to Expect

The SGIF engagement is collegial, efficient, and focused on positive outcomes. Here are the steps:

  • Instructor meets with the facilitator, a CEETL Faculty Fellow or Consultant, to confirm schedule and areas of interest;
  • The instructor introduces the facilitator and leaves the room. The facilitator conducts the SGIF during 20 minutes of class time and a recorder captures the responses;
  • Individually, in groups, and as a class students are guided to answer these questions: “What specific changes could the instructor, my classmates, and I make to help me learn in this course?” and "What about this course has been most helpful to my learning?" 
  • The facilitator summarizes and shares the feedback with the instructor and they discuss teaching strategies;
  • The instructor reports the proposed changes back to the class at the next session.

Frequently Asked Questions

The SGIF Season is generally between the 5th and 10th week of the semester. It is recommended that you schedule your SGIF early and include its date and time in your syllabus. Even if you haven’t scheduled it yet, it would be a good idea to include it in your syllabus and emphasize the importance of mid-term feedback to your students.

Instructors may request a SGIF by completing the SGIF request form. Please provide us with at least two weeks’ advance notice and we will make every effort to accommodate your request, based on scheduling availability. The Spring 2020 SGIF form has closed, please check back in September to sign up for a fall SGIF!

A SGIF serves as a mid-semester check-in so the “SGIF Season” takes place between the 5th and 10th week of the semester. This timing allows for enough shared experience to generate useful feedback, and enough time remaining to implement positive changes. We ask that you request a SGIF with at least 2 weeks’ notice to allow for scheduling.

A cadre of CEETL Faculty Fellows and Consultants, with expertise in all modalities of instruction, are available to facilitate SGIFs and will be assigned based on availability. Although the pre- and post- SGIF consultation process will normally happen with one Fellow or Consultant, we have found it most efficient to have two people present during the SGIF so that one can facilitate the SGIF and the other can record the responses.

Unlike the SETE results, which are a summative student evaluation of teaching effectiveness in a course that is used in the faculty retention, promotion, and tenure process, the SGIF results are formative feedback with the goal of improving the teaching and learning experience before the end of the semester. The results are only shared with the instructor and are destroyed once the consultation has taken place. If the instructor chooses to disclose that they have participated in a SGIF and share the results on their own accord, that is their decision.

CEETL is not affiliated with the retention, promotion and tenure review processes of any academic programs, and it is at the instructor's discretion whether or not they share the feedback with others, such as their department chair. CEETL Faculty Fellows and Consultants conducting the SGIFs will not share their observations with any other individuals besides the instructor, including SF State administration, other instructors, staff, or students. SGIFs are generally confidential though an exception is made if information surfaces that reflects emotional, psychological or physical danger or threat of danger to students or faculty.

There are three components in the SGIF process:

  1. In the pre-consultation, the instructor and facilitator confirm the date and time for the SGIF and follow-up consultation and identify key areas of interest to explore.
  2. During the SGIF, the instructor introduces the facilitator and then leaves the class for a period of 30 minutes. The facilitator engages the class in individual, group, and collective feedback activities that address these questions: What am I, my classmates, and the instructor doing that help my learning? What could I, my classmates, and the instructor do to improve my learning? The facilitator asks the class to prioritize their responses and express their level of agreement on the collective responses, which are recorded.
  3. In the post-consultation, the facilitator and instructor meet to discuss the results and develop strategies to continue with the current practices that are working well, and make concrete changes to those practices that are not as beneficial. At the next class session, the instructor follows up with the class for 5-10 minutes to thank them for their feedback and share any changes they can expect.

The SGIF Season is generally between the 5th and 10th week of the semester. Instructors may request a SGIF by completing a SGIF request form. Please provide us with at least two weeks’ advance notice and we will make every effort to accommodate your request, based on scheduling availability. You may also contact for more information.

A SGIF, also referred to as a Small Group Analysis (SMA), Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), or Group Instructional Feedback Technique (GIFT), is a well-established practice in faculty development and many studies have proven the positive effect this activity can have on the teaching and learning experience for faculty and students. Here are examples of how other universities use this practice as part of their faculty development offerings:

For more information about SGIFs and their educational benefits, you may consult these references:

  • Clark, J. & Redmond, M. (1979). Small Group Instructional Diagnosis: Final Report. Washington University, Seattle.
  • Crow, R., McGinty, D., LeBaron, J. (2008). The Online Small Group Analysis (OSAG): Adapting a Tested Formative Assessment Technique for Online Teaching. MountainRise, the International Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Summer (1-19).
  • Diamond, M. R. (2004). The usefulness of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 217-231.
  • Hurney, C. A., Harris, N. L., Bates Prins, S. C., & Kruck, S. E. (2014). The impact of a learner-centered, mid-semester course evaluation on students. Journal of Faculty Development, 28(3), 55.
  • Maurer, D. (2016). Small group instructional feedback: A student perspective of its impact on the teaching and learning environment (Ed.D.). George Fox University.
  • Millis, B. (1999). Three practical strategies for peer consultations. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 79, 19-28.