Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs)

Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs), by Dr._Stephen_D._Brookfield

Background: Katy and Tara have both been using CIQs in class this semester.  These are short learning assessments that are administered once per week, at the end of the last class of week.  The short survey (four open-ended questions) asks the student to be self-reflective about their learning throughout that week.  The responses (anonymous) can then be used by the instructor to categorize instruction methods and or topics that are particularly beneficial or challenging to the students.  Furthermore, it encourages the students to provide feedback and gives them active role in shaping class time.


  • Katy reported what seemed to be incidents of “survey fatigue” for the students in the class.  More and more, students appear to be leaving questions blank.  Additionally, at least one student described the CIQ as a “teacher evaluation” to another student.  If students consider these “evaluative of the instructor” it tends to defeat their purpose as a “learning-evaluation”.
  • It was suggested that, now that it is mid-semester, it may be a good time to remind the students what the CIQs are for and how they are used.  That they are an evaluation of one’s experience in class, not of the instruction.
  • It also became clear, in looking at the answers to the questions, that not all the students fully understand what the questions are asking.
  • There is some fear of “evaluation fatigue”, in that the students may spend less time and/or effort filling out the end-of-year evaluation because they have already filled out the CIQs.  Being that Katy is using CIQs in one class and not another, it may be possible to see a difference between the classes.