Each semester, most Colleges will give students an opportunity to give feedback on their experience of a particular module. In a survey they are asked using a Likert scale to agree/disagree with statements like:
- Students are encouraged to ask questions
- Different styles of teaching were used when appropriate
- I feel that assessment in this module was appropriate
- Lecturer gave appropriate feedback & coaching
Above is just a sample of the 22 statements we provide in the survey (I have modified the above four statements to preserve confidentiality). Some of the questions are about students' own learning, the ones of interest to most Lecturers are usually about what the students think of the Lecturer. While it is always great to get positive feedback, negative feedback can make for difficult reading - especially if you have put a huge effort into a module. No matter what - feedback is always welcome and I can always learn from it to improve my own teaching. In one module this semester I got some great feedback on suggestions to change the sequence of topics, which I will certainly do.
The statements in the survey are really only useful to analyse if a sufficient number of students actually take the survey. Some modules I get no feedback on because there were no responses, in a previous year I also saw I got great ratings only to discover that just one student responded to the survey. Mostly, the response rate is low resulting in low quality feedback.
Freehand comments at the end of the survey are interesting. Thankfully I get some nice comments, but also some comments from less-happy students who might find the module boring or out-of-date, or that course notes were poor, or that the content was too hard/easy, or that the Lecturer was simply not a good lecturer. While one negative comment can outweigh ten positive comments, this is the comment to learn from most.