• Students are asked to provide feedback through ratings and written responses on their learning experience in the unit and the teaching practices of lecturer/tutor.
  • When reviewing students' feedback, look for patterns or themes, and relate the comments (qualitative data) to the summary of ratings (quantitative data).

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Interpreting Section A Feedback Interpreting Section B Feedback Understanding student comments

Suggestions for Interpreting students’ ratings of the unit (Section A)

Students are asked about five aspects of their experience in their unit. Students are required to select one of the following options: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree. They can also select the not applicable option. Included below are recommendations of how academics may interpret the feedback for each rating-type item.

Each rating-type item starts with “My experience of learning in [Unit Code, Unit Name, Study Period, Campus/Mode]”

I understood the requirements and learning outcomes (i.e., objectives) for the unit.

A low rating in this item generally indicates that students are unclear about what is required of them in the unit and exactly what they should be focusing on to succeed. Review the presentation of each assessment in the unit outline to check that the links to the appropriate and relevant learning outcomes are clear. Similarly, when presenting activities and resources (in class or online), indicate how the students will be able to achieve specific learning outcomes when they engage with these materials.

A short, informal survey at the beginning of the unit to gauge student expectations and their understanding of the unit’s learning outcomes may indicate a need to adjust learning activities and teaching strategies. Discuss with students what the outcomes mean so that both teacher and students develop a common understanding. If appropriate, you could also consider seeking a revision of the learning outcomes during the next unit review.

Assessment tasks guided my learning process and performance.

A low score for this item may indicate that students were unable to grasp the purpose of the assignments, tests and other assessment tasks as a means of learning. That is, assessment for learning as well as assessment of learning.

Ensuring that assessments are aligned with the learning outcomes, and that students are made aware of the connection, are all part of effective teaching. The unit outline states how assessments reflect the learning outcomes, and this may need to be elaborated on. Where possible assessments should be structured so that they build on students’ knowledge over the semester.

I received timely and useful feedback on my work.

It is crucial that students receive feedback while the assessed work is still fresh in their minds and before they move on to subsequent tasks. Ideally assessment tasks should be planned so that students are given time to improve their work based on timely feedback.

Consider implementing the following practices along with the returned work and rubric comments:

(a) discussing common issues with the class,

(b) providing an overview of strong and weak answers, and/or

(c) uploading additional overall comments for the whole class through LEO posting.

This will provide students some general feedback to guide their next task.

Recommended resources (online, library, text books, handouts, etc.) were useful to my study.

When a low score is received for this item, it might be necessary to review and update resources to improve relevance. Avoid including too many non-essential readings or resources and periodically review currency of resources. Check resources are aligned with classes, lectures, seminars, tutorials or labs, for students to see their relevance. It may be helpful to explain to students why particular readings, videos, or podcasts have been assigned, and how they relate to specific activities and assessment tasks, and the means for supporting intended learning outcomes.

Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of this unit.

Students are likely to give a higher rating for overall quality if they have clearly understood the objectives or expected outcomes of the unit and have a sense of achievement, in addition to the stated objectives corresponding with their own motivations for taking the course. Unclear expectations may generate frustration and impede student learning. It is recommended (if it is not done already) that staff explicitly link their unit with other units (both before and after their own unit) in the course sequence.

Suggestions for Interpreting students’ ratings of teacher/teaching (section B)

Students are asked about the teaching practices of their lecturer/tutor for each unit. Students are required to select one of the following options: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree. Included below are recommendations of how academics may interpret the feedback for each question for improving their teaching practices in the future.

Explains keys ideas or concepts clearly

If a low rating for this item is received, consider adopting one or more of the following strategies:

  • Prepare the main points before class and practice talking through complex concepts.
  • Clearly signal shifts in topics and explain the connections between various themes.
  • Take into account the students' background knowledge (or lack of) and try to anticipate common confusions or questions.
  • Leave adequate time to cover the content.
  • Explain key points in numerous ways. Use memorable examples, analogies or anecdotes to illustrate important points.
  • Link new information to previous concepts to help students distinguish ideas and contextualise information.
  • When relevant, use your own research or professional experience to explain the content material. Students generally appreciate relevant information provided by someone who has worked in the discipline or ‘field’ recently.
  • Check students’ understanding through probing questions or a simple quiz.
  • If a number of students approach you after class or during office hours regarding a concept, review that concept in the following class (if time permits) or inform students about the additional explanation/information you have posted on LEO.
  • Encourage students to ask you questions so that you can clarify any confusion – this can be done in class and through online postings.
Encourages my active participation in this unit.

This item suggests that teachers demonstrate enthusiasm about the subject and show students why they are passionate about the field. It is useful to show students how the unit material can be applied to real life. Think about beginning a class session with thought-provoking questions or recent news events that relate to the topic of discussion.

If students don't volunteer questions, ask questions or facilitate activities which ask them to demonstrate their understanding. Encouraging students to explore their specific interests in the field by allowing them to choose between readings or assignment topics can be useful. Consider modelling thinking processes and problem-solving by working through examples during class and follow up by having students tackle similar problems. ‘Think aloud’ technique is a good way to discuss the underlying reasons and assumptions, and you might consider asking students to suggest pathways to a problem you are solving.

Responds to student needs and concerns.

Students can feel that teachers are often inaccessible when they have questions, especially outside class times. It may be necessary to manage expectations through establishing protocols regarding communication outside class by setting up consultation times and rules regarding email contact and likely response times. Advertise these times to students in the ‘Meet the lecturer’ section of LEO and on the front page of the unit outline and remind students in class of when you are available.

Directing students to ask their questions through a LEO discussion area rather than conducting conversation via email (unless their concerns are private, such as a health issue) can reduce consultation hours and may also reduce the same questions being asked my multiple students. Use the student’s name in your responses to that student and acknowledge the emotions that arise from study and learning where appropriate. Use the automated assessment feedback mechanisms available in LEO, such as computer-marked quizzes, as supplements to your own feedback: students still get benefits from computer aided feedback, and it is immediate.

Another strategy could be to try to anticipate students' concerns and possible questions, based on previous teaching experience or conversations with students and colleagues, and preparing thoughtful responses to the most likely questions. If there are questions that cannot be answered in class, consider researching the answer and reporting back to the student privately or in class, or invite students to research the question with you.

Demonstrates quality teaching.

This item focuses on the quality of the teaching rather than the overall unit as in the Section A of SELT surveys. Students generally give a high rating for overall quality when they feel that they clearly understood the objectives or outcomes of the subject, and their teachers have helped them to achieve these. The Centre of Education and Innovation provides a range of professional development support and other resources for teaching staff.

Understanding student comments

The SELT survey asks students to write responses to two questions related to the best aspects of a unit and the aspects that need improvement. Students are also asked to comment on the best aspects of a teacher's practice, and what areas of teaching need improvement. These comments can provide lecturers/tutors with more detailed information on aspects of the unit and teaching that are not captured in the statistical data. It can be difficult to assess these qualitative comments, particularly in large units, as student responses are often unstructured and influenced by a range of contextual factors, including prior experience, preferences and expectations. Here are some tips on making sense of these written responses:

Look for patterns and themes

When attempting to understand students’ comments about the unit and the teaching in that unit, examine the qualitative data to identify key words or phrases that are frequently used. This can point towards areas that are either working well or need attention.

Relate the student comments to quantitative results

The written responses students make can provide specific details on areas of curricula that may need enhancement, while the statistical data derived for the Likert scale items are useful as general indicators of areas needing improvement. Use the quantitative/statistical data as a guide when examining the student comments. For example, if a low rating was received for item 2 which relates to assessment tasks, look to the qualitative comments to see what students are saying about the assessments and any suggestions they may have made for improvements.

Dealing with contradictory comments

Within a single unit a teacher may receive a range of responses that vary and seem contradictory making it difficult to assess what students are saying. There could be complimentary comments as well as those that are critical. This may be due to distinct student groups within a class that have varying learning needs and expectations, such as students from different faculties or courses enrolled in a unit. It may be necessary to adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of a wider range of learners.

Page last updated on 22/12/2021

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