How to Obtain Student Feedback

Student feedback can be obtained in various ways. At SU we have an institutional student feedback system with standardized questionnaires, but lecturers can also obtain their own real-time, customized feedback for purpose of developing their modules and enhancing the teaching and learning process for themselves as well as their students.

 

1. The SU Electronic Student Feedback System

 

  • Rationale for changing to an Electronic System

 

A key priority of the process is to develop an information producing system that will focus on aspects of teaching that are closely linked with improved learning. In this way the new questionnaires should provide both lecturers and students a vocabulary that will support meaningful conversations to work towards effective, quality teaching.

 

Moving towards an electronic system will also create the opportunity for a more flexible system which could contribute to such conversations. It will allow lecturers greater access to formative feedback possibilities and enable them to easily develop their own customised feedback instruments. In this regard, student feedback can thus play a much bigger role in the enhancement of modules, programmes and teaching. Reports could also be made available much quicker, so as to enable lecturers to respond to feedback, if necessary. Students will also be able to experience the outcomes of their feedback.

The electronic system should focus on delivering an effective service known for the optimal use of available resources and technology, the fast and effective processing of data and the timely distribution of results. An automated system should create the space to achieve this.

 

  • How does the Electronic System Work?

 

Since October 2018 the institution embarked on using an electronic student feedback system and the processing of paper feedback can only be handled until the end of 2019.  Lecturers are therefore urged to start using the electronic feedback system as soon as possible.

 

Step 1: Departments and Lecturers
1. Complete an e-registration form
Click here for the E-registration form.
2. Inform students of the feedback questionnaire that will be available. Students will also receive a formal notification via the system.

Step 2: Access for Students to the System and Questionnaires
1. Students will receive an email from the system with a link to the questionnaire.
2. Students are guided to click on the link and log in using their SU username and password.
3. Students are guided to complete the questionnaire.

Step 3: Data Administration
1. Once a questionnaire has been activated, the relevant lecturer will be notified via email.
2. Regular notifications will be sent to students for the period for which a questionnaire is available.
3. After the questionnaire has closed, the Student Feedback Office will extract the data from the system and generate a report. All reports will be sent from Sharepoint to the following persons:
• Lecturers – each lecturer will receive a report separately
• Heads of Department – A file is created on Sharepoint, which stores all feedback reports per department. Only the Head of Department will receive access to the relevant department’s file.
• Faculty Deans – A file is created on Sharepoint for each faculty in which all feedback reports are stored. Only the Dean will have access to all feedback reports.

Step 4: Follow-up Actions

Lecturers are encouraged to give feedback to their students in terms of the use and impact of feedback to promote learning and teaching.
The revised Teaching and Learning Policy (7.1.3) indicates that student feedback is the primary source of information about students’ experience of learning and teaching, but that the data should be used throughout with other sources. Examples of such sources are feedback from colleagues, self-evaluation and literature (research).

Confidentiality: The Student Feedback Office is aware of the confidentiality of the reports and will not share information with unauthorized persons. Only staff from the Student Feedback Office of the Centre for Teaching and Learning have access to the information and authorized persons have access to information as indicated above.

 

For more information please contact Ms Veronica Beukes (vfbeukes@sun.ac.za), Ms Roshnique Pharo (rdaniels@sun.ac.za) or Ms Ilke Arnolds ​(igideons5@sun.ac.za ).

 

  • Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders in the Student Feedback Process

 

Management (including the HOD & Dean):

  • The line function management in a particular environment ensures that student feedback on all modules and lecturers is obtained on an annual basis.
  • The line function management also assists lecturers in using the student feedback data for improving their teaching, and supports lecturers (especially inexperienced lecturers) with interpreting and utilising student feedback results, in order to optimise the role feedback could play in the development of individual teaching.
  • If student feedback is also used during performance appraisal processes, management must ensure that is done with great circumspection and appropriately (e.g. to never use student feedback out of context or as the sole source of information about teaching;  to ensure that academic staff are never directly involved obtaining summative feedback on a module which they teach; and to firstly aim to empower individual lecturers to improve their own teaching).
  • Student feedback is handled confidentially by departmental staff.
  • In cases where feedback on a module or lecturer is negative, departmental and module chairpersons are encouraged to utilise CTL’s consultation services and expertise to provide that lecturer with support and to undertake suitable training actions.

 

Programme Committees and Coordinators:

Student feedback on learning and teaching programmes (excluding the mainly research-based programmes at M and D level) is obtained annually at the end of the final academic year of the programme. Final-year students participate in the survey. Programme committees and coordinators are responsible for overseeing this feedback process. In the case of structured M-programmes, the feedback must be obtained at the end of the structured part of the programme.

 

The Lecturer:

  • The lecturer should inform his/her students about the actions that were taken or are planned based on previous student feedback received. This will enhance the integrity of the process and will also encourage students to participate in the process.
  • In order to give all lecturers the opportunity to reflect on their own experience of teaching a module and placing student feedback results in context, a structured Lecturer Feedback questionnaire is provided for completion by lecturers during student feedback. The completed form is submitted together with the completed student feedback questionnaires and is attached to the copies of the student feedback report that are sent to the line function managers.

 

Please click here for the Lecturer Feedback form

 

The Students:

  • Students are expected to approach the feedback process responsibly and with integrity.
  • Students should provide constructive feedback that is clear and specific, in order for the lecturer to be able to respond in ways that will enhance student learning.
  • Feedback given by students should focus on teaching and learning related matters and should exclude personal comments about lecturers and the use of foul, abusive or degrading language.

 

The Centre for Teaching and Learning:

The mission of the CTL is to create professional learning opportunities for academic staff in faculties and to be thought leaders in the areas of responsive, innovative and scholarly teaching and learning. Student feedback serves as one example of such professional learning opportunities offered by the CTL. The University has vested in the Centre for Teaching and Learning the expertise and facilities to provide a service to the University community with regard to student feedback. CTL can also play a supporting role with regard to the analysis and interpretation of student feedback (e.g. the identification of general trends), feedback to academic staff, and recommendations on suitable follow-up actions.

 

CTL has the following responsibilities with regard to questionnaires:

 

  • Within the electronic student feedback system, CTL is responsible for drawing up the electronic questionnaires, giving users access to obtain the feedback electronically, and extracting, processing and securely storing the data.
  • The results of summative student feedback on lecturers and modules are made available to the lecturer involved, the dean and the departmental/ module chairperson (and, where applicable, divisional heads)
  • The results of student feedback on learning and teaching programmes are made available to the dean and the programme coordinator.
  • The CTL can also assist with developing customised methods of obtaining student feedback, in addition to the institutional student feedback system.
  • * Please note: The CTL is no way directly involved in the evaluation of the quality of teaching, modules, or programmes.

 

2. Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

 

What is Classroom Assessment?

 

Classroom assessment refers to the close observation of students in the process of learning and the collection of frequent feedback on students’ learning. Using various classroom assessment techniques can help lecturers to obtain useful real-time (formative) feedback on what, how much and how well students are learning.

 

Why should Lecturers use CATs?

 

For Lecturers:

  • It can provide short-term feedback about day-to-day learning and teaching processes at a time when it is still possible to make changes while the module is in progress;
  • The implementation of CATs generally requires less time than other traditional or institutional student feedback systems;
  • It can help to foster good rapport between lecturers and students and to increase the efficacy of teaching and learning;
  • It shows that the lecturer cares about learning;
  • It encourages the view of teaching as a formative process which evolves over time.

For Students:

  • CATs can help students to better monitor their own learning and to make adjustments in their study methods or approaches;
  • It can help to increase student engagement during classes.

 

Examples of CATs

 

  • One-minute Paper
    During the last few minutes of the class period, ask students to answer on a half–sheet of paper: “What is the most important point you learned today?”; and, “What point remains least clear to you?” The purpose is to elicit data about students’ comprehension of a particular class session.
    Review responses and note any useful comments. During the following class periods emphasize the issues illuminated by your students’ comments.
  • Muddiest Point
    Ask students to jot down a quick response to one question: “What was the muddiest point in….?” The focus of the muddiest point assessment might be a lecture, a discussion, a homework assignment, or a learning resources such as a text, a play, or a film.
    Quickly read through all the responses, looking for common types of muddy points and address those in a next class.
  • Clickers
    Use student response technologies such as clickers to ask questions in the middle of discussions or lectures and see how students understand the material.
  • Application Cards
    After teaching about an important theory, principle, or procedure, ask students to write down at least one real-world application for what they have just learned to determine how well they can transfer their learning.
    Quickly read once through the applications and categorize them according to their quality. Pick out a broad range of examples and present them to the class.
  • Mid-course (formative) Feedback
    After four or five weeks of classes, ask students anonymously what is working and what improvements you might make to help them learn more effectively. Always discuss the results with your students so that they know you have read them and taken them seriously. You may also discuss this information with your line management, another colleague or the CTL adviser in your faculty.

 

For more information and examples, please see:

Angelo, T. A., and Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.