We all know that student feedback can be a goldmine for improving our teaching methods, course content, and overall student experience. This article is all about how we can better use this valuable resource.
Why Student Feedback Matters
A recent study by the University of Ulster’s Educational Development Unit (EDU) looked at how schools gather and use student feedback. While the study was UK-based, it’s got some great takeaways for us here in Australia.
Most schools collect feedback through surveys about specific classes, whole courses, or teachers themselves. They might also ask students for input when they’re about to graduate or have recently left the school. The way they do this varies quite a bit, which can make it tricky to figure out the best approach. What we can take away from this is that it’s important to check in regularly with our students and to be open to feedback about specific aspects of our courses.
What’s Going on in Australia
Here in Australia, we use student satisfaction surveys quite a bit, especially since students now have to cover more of their education costs. As a result, student feedback has become a really important part of making sure we’re providing top-notch education.
According to a researcher named Winter-Hebron, the most common way we’re doing this is through questionnaires. But while these are great for getting a broad sense of student opinions, they’re not the whole story. Things like interviews, focus groups, and student-staff committees can give us a deeper understanding of how our students are experiencing their education.
Keeping Our Teaching Up to Scratch
There are a couple of main ways we can ensure we’re doing our best as educators. The first is by planning, validating, and reviewing our courses. The second is by getting feedback from our students on how they think we’re doing.
But it’s important to remember that the tools we’re using to gather feedback need to be well designed and used consistently. As another researcher, Rowley, points out, getting good, useful feedback from students is a crucial part of making sure we’re doing our job well.
Making Sure Feedback Counts
One big challenge in using student feedback is what educators call ‘closing the loop.’ That means not just collecting and analysing feedback, but also letting students know what we’re doing as a result of their input. If students don’t see their feedback leading to changes, they might not bother giving it in the future.
To make our feedback process better here in Australia, we need to work together to make sure we’re not leaving anything out or duplicating efforts. And most importantly, we’ve got to make sure our students know that their feedback really does make a difference.
With the right approach to student feedback, we can make our classrooms better and give our students the best education possible. So let’s get out there, listen to our students, and make our courses the best they can be!