A Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) is a formative assessment of students’ learning, a kind of mid-stream evaluation or checkup that usually takes place in the 4th, 5th, or 6th week of the semester. It can, however, be done at any time. SGIDs are most commonly conducted by someone other than the instructor – usually a person from the teaching and learning center – in order to give students greater freedom to express their views. However, a faculty member could ask his or her students the SGID questions him or herself.
An SGID is a great way to evaluate if the students are learning and if there might be better ways to help them learn during the remainder of the semester. Doing an SGID early in the semester gives more time for meaningful improvements in the course and in students' learning – improvements that are based on the students' feedback during the SGID – to occur. In addition to the quality feedback faculty receive, students often are pleased that their instructor is willing to listen to their views and is seeking to make meaningful changes to improve the course and their learning. This, in turn, gives students a greater sense of control over their own learning, a sense of control that often leads to greater trust in the professor and a greater willingness to engage in the learning process.
There are four steps in the SGID procedure: two steps involve the SGID facilitator and the students, one involves the SGID facilitator and, possibly the faculty member, and final step involves the faculty member and the students in the class.