Teaching Evaluation and Student Feedback

Evaluation based on student feedback is an important strategy for informing and refining teaching and unit design. There are various methods for this. We are well acquainted with the formal feedback practices which involve student evaluation of individual units of study at the end of each teaching session. Informal practices can be instituted by the Unit Assessor/tutor at different points in the teaching session to gain feedback and make adjustments as necessary. Both formal and informal approaches to gaining student feedback provide a useful source of evidence to guide improvements and changes. They can also inspire reflective practice and contribute significantly to professional learning about one's teaching practice.

Gathering Student Feedback - Informal

During the course of your teaching, student feedback can be elicited informally to monitor learning progress and to fine tune teaching practices. There are various methods for collecting student feedback. These include:

MethodLink

Making a poll or quiz
A polling facility which enables students to provide Yes/No or multiple choice responses to questions from teachers.

In your MySCU site there is the facility to create a poll or quiz. This is located under the assessments button. Contact BBhelp for guidance on how to activate this tool.

Five Main Points Asks students to recall at the end of a teaching event, the five (5) main points covered. You can do this a prompt in an online guide, a discussion board topic or as a physical handout.

Here is an example for from Flinders University of Five Main Points.

Applications Card (Angelo and Cross, 1993)
Asks students to write down as many ways as they can think of to apply what they have just learned. Again, this can be used in a number of ways: as a discussion board prompt, a reflective prompt in an online guide or a physical handout

Have a look at a sample from Flinders University of an Applications Card.

Here are three more tools for gathering feedback, all of which can be applied to physical and online classrooms - in discussion boards, reflective prompts or as handouts.

The Muddiest Point (Angelo and Cross, 1993)
Asks students to write down the thing/s they least understood about what has just happened.

The Minute paper (Angelo and Cross, 1993)
Asks students to write down their feedback about aspects of the day's session.

The Critical incident questionnaire (CIQ) (Brookfield, 1995)
Requires students to consider key events in the last week's learning and teaching.

Please look at the Teaching@SCU booklet pp 34-35 for useful strategies to apply these tools. This booklet is available on the Teaching & Learning website.

Gathering Student Feedback - Formal

SCU also provides opportunities for all its students to provide summative feedback on their experiences in each of their units of study. This process is administered through the Office of Planning, Quality and Review (PQR) and consists of an online questionnaire which measures the quality of learning in the unit and provides opportunities for student feedback on the teaching experience. This process is called Unit Reporting and is an integral component of wider evaluation processes such as Course Reports and Program Reviews.

Responding to student feedback

Consider what the student feedback is telling you. For example, if students say they did not understand the assessment, and you can see that they have not accessed supports such as online resources, then think about how to bring these to students' attention earlier and more often (for example, ensuring you have provided a tour of your Bb site that points to the UIG, online resources, and assessment information). You may also use this as a signal to rethink the assessment strategy.

Students are not necessarily trained in giving feedback. They can use evaluations as an opportunity to vent about issues outside the domain of the course content (e.g. acoustics in a lecture theatre). Read the feedback gained from your unit evaluations with an open mind and a commitment to asking yourself questions such as: What are they saying that I need to take notice of in relation to my teaching practice? Are there any common themes? It can be helpful to discuss the feedback with a colleague. They may see it in a different way which can assist in responding to your unit's evaluation.

Resources

Four Lenses: Evaluation Practice University of Sydney
This webpage is based on Stephen Brookfield's model of four lenses (self, student, peer and scholarly literature), used for evaluation, reflective practice and professional learning. Brookfield's lenses offer a mechanism that can be used in several ways. It includes tools for systematic self-reflection, thinking about student feedback, utilising peer review and then consideration of the scholarly literature. It is an extremely useful tool to support your teaching practice.