Closing the Feedback Loop

It is counterproductive to ask students for information then not use it. Students will become cynical and uncooperative if they think no one really cares about what they experience. Student feedback data thus needs to be transformed into meaningful information which is shared with students as well. It is important to inform students about actions that are/were taken on the basis of their views. By concentrating on action that has already been taken or is planned for the new year or semester, feedback to students can help to shape their reasonable expectations of the module and can provide them with a benchmark to measure improvement of the module or teaching.

The SU Rules for Obtaining and Utilising Student Feedback about programmes, modules and lecturers, stipulate the following:

 

“At his/her discretion the dean may, via the departmental or module chairperson and the programme coordinator (in the case of learning and teaching programmes):
a.i.i. provide the students and other stakeholders with the relevant information in a suitable manner,
a.i.ii. make effective use of class representatives in order to make relevant student feedback information available to students; and
a.i.iii. where necessary, launch appropriate follow-up actions”.

 

1. How to Present Feedback to Students

 

There are several methods that lecturers and institutions can use to present feedback to students:

  • The most effective way would be for all lecturers to announce in the first class of the module what they learned from the student feedback in the previous round of teaching the module, and what they are doing about it.
  • Another channel of feeding back to students is direct communication with groups of students, such as student representatives. This would, however, rely on these students to actually relay the information to the rest of the student body and to do it in appropriate and reliable ways.
  • Departmental or student newsletters could also be a useful way of disseminating information to staff and students. These newsletters can be done in electronic format or as leaflets.

 

Feeding back to students will encourage them to participate in the feedback process, especially if it is made clear what actions have been based on the feedback they have provided! An increase in the response rates will also increase lecturers’ confidence in the results.

 

2. Types of Information to feed back to Students

 

Feedback to students should always include the actions taken or the actions planned based on the feedback that they have provided.

 

At the very least, the aggregated results of student feedback with regard to modules and programmes should be made available to the relevant students, provided that each faculty makes arrangements in conjunction with the relevant student committees for the release of such aggregated student feedback, and that these arrangements ensure that all students have access to the information.

 

Results with regard to individual lecturers’ teaching are not made available in this manner.

 

Students who participate in the feedback process will remain anonymous.