A topic that has fascinated me, but one that I have never really had the time to get stuck in to in any depth has been feedback from students on their modules and courses (often lumped in with discussions about feedback on assessment TO students).
I have recently started a new job at the University of Exeter where I will have some responsibility for policy in this area. I’m looking forward to getting to work on this and I’ll probably share some thoughts and ideas on his blog as I go through it.
What I have found most interesting so far is the many, many different ways in which the outcomes from our module evaluations are used. Here are just a few:
- To inform staff development plans
- To inform university strategy
- To implement changes that will improve student learning
- To help prepare for NSS
- To inform module choices that students make
Each one is legitimate in its own right, but I don’t think one survey or evaluation can deliver all of those. Or maybe it can and I am just too tunnel visioned?!
I think number 3 presents the biggest challenge. It’s quite straightforward to gather good feedback that can be used to make improvements, but making this happen in time for students to feel the benefit of the change is the problem. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve heard students complain that giving feedback is a bit pointless because it won’t affect them directly. I would argue that it does because it will all help to shape their learning environment and make their University a better place to study, but even I acknowledge that that just isn’t visible enough.
So what to do?! I don’t know the answer yet. But I saw something with some potential on The Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog. An academic at a Canadian University has developed an app that can be used on Phones, tablets and laptops to gather live feedback from students about their lectures.
It looks so simple and easy to use. It’s worth a look I think.