Skip to content

Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF) or Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)

SGIF is the use of small focus groups to help students develop and diagnose their own learning experiences.

It is a form of assessment generally used mid-semester which instructors may use when they wish to...

  • fine tune teaching,
  • examine the impact of a new instructional approach,
  • investigate a problem, or
  • improve classroom climate.

It is usually administered during the first or last 30 to 40 minutes of class by an outside consultant/facilitator (contact CTE Faculty Director, Tracy Price at (517) 483-1427.)

Step-By-Step Procedure

  1. The consultant is introduced as someone (a friend or colleague) who is there to gather ideas about the students' learning experiences (not as someone who is there to evaluate). The consultant assures the students that
    • the instructor has requested the SGIF,
    • participation is voluntary,
    • results are confidential,
    • and the point is to collect feedback about their learning experience in the class.
  2. After the instructor leaves the room, the consultant has the students form small groups of 3 to 5. Each group has a note taker. Each group has one of the following topics which can be modified depending on the instructor's needs:
    • Textbooks/Materials
    • Classroom Policies/Atmosphere
    • Grading/Assignments
  3. In their small groups, the students address the following questions as they relate to their assigned topic:
    • What aspects help you learn more effectively?
    • What aspects do not?
    • What suggestions do you have for improving your learning?
  4. After approximately 10 minutes, the consultant reconvenes the group and begins the recording phase. A student volunteer is asked to write down all ideas exactly as they are written on the board. Ideas are collected from each group one at a time, authenticity is verified with the other groups, and the facilitator records the ideas on the chalkboard in the students' words. Once all responses for a topic are on the board, the facilitator summarizes their discussion, providing an opportunity for adjustment. If there is not consensus, quantifiers such as "most said" or "a few said" are added.
  5. The facilitator meets with the instructor within 24 to 48 hours to review the feedback and brainstorm possible solutions.

The Instructor's Follow Up Response To The Students

It is essential that the instructor respond to the students' feedback as soon as possible and include the following:

  1. Reinforce an atmosphere of mutual respect by thanking them for their feedback.
  2. Discussion of the entire report is not necessary, but the instructor should note what stood out both in terms of the helpful and not-so-helpful feedback.
  3. Which suggestions you are willing to act on and which ones you are not and why.

This is a unique learning opportunity because students are more receptive after a SGIF. They might in fact suddenly hear what has been said before. And because the students have made the suggestions, any change will have a greater effect on the students. SGIF's place students in an active role.


Bennett, W.E. "Small Group Instructional Diagnosis: A Dialogic Approach to Instructional Improvement for Tenured Faculty." Journal of Staff, Program, and Organizational Development. 5.3 (1987): 100-104.

Center for Teaching Excellence
TLC Building
400 N. Capitol, Suite 324
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: (517) 483-1680
Additional contact information

Facebook Teaching Innovation Blog
Open Hours
Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm

To send an APPLEGRAM online,
fill-out the Applegram form.