Student Interviews and Exit Interviews

Group interviews with students provide a rich snapshot of the instructor’s teaching effectiveness.  Faculty report interviews as more “accurate, trustworthy, useful, comprehensive, and more believable” in comparison to student ratings and written comments on teaching evaluations (Braskamp & Ory, 1994; Berk, 2005).  Furthermore, faculty regard student interviews, both group and individual, as useful tools for improving teaching performance.

Braskamp and Ory (1994) recommend three types of interviews:

  • quality control circles,
  • classroom group interviews, and
  • graduate exit and alumni interviews.

1)  Quality control circles: Used by Japanese industry to engage employees in decision making, these involve assembling a small group of student volunteers to meet regularly, for example biweekly, to critique teaching and testing strategies and identify areas for improvement.

2)  Classroom and group interviews: These involve the entire class and are conducted by someone other than the instructor.  Usually the person who presides at the interview is a colleague in the same department, however, a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers or one from the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning Excellence could play this role.  All interviews should consist of structured questionnaires targeting strengths and weaknesses of the course.  Questions should be worded in order to elicit a broad array of student perspectives regarding the class.  After the interviews have taken place, the information should be written up and shared with the faculty member.  Results of the interview, along with the instructor’s narrative response, can be included for use in annual evaluations or in the candidate’s dossier when coming up for promotion.

3)  Graduate interviews, alumni interviews and exit questionnaires: This type of interview can be done either individually or in groups.  Group interviews should focus on what the members believe were the most useful or least useful courses and the best (or worst) instructors, and gather student thoughts on content gaps, teaching quality, advising quality, and graduation plans.  The responses may be recorded, and anonymous comments on the program may be gathered.  The results of these interviews should be forwarded to appropriate faculty members, curriculum committees, and administrators.  Depending upon the results of the exit interviews, information regarding the teaching performance of a particular instructor may be used for both formative and summative decisions.


Braskamp, L. A. & Ory, J. C (1994). Assessing faculty work.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Berk, R. A. (2005).  “Survey of 12 Strategies to Measure Teaching Effectiveness.”  International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Vol. 17.1, 48-62.   ISSN 1812-9129.