Student surveys and feedback on learning and teaching at ACU

Earlier this year, I wrote to students on the topic of Student surveys - why we invite your feedback.

Student engagement in the surveys is essential for reliability of survey results - appropriate responses provide valid information. While ACU employs selected strategies to boost student participation in multiple survey types, academic staff input is critical in surveys related to learning and teaching.

  1. The Extended Unit Outline published in the Learning Environment Online (LEO) should contain a section on the use of student feedback. The respective Faculty and the Lecturer in Charge have the responsibility to develop and publish this document. Class discussions, focused on how previous student feedback has been used to make improvements, show students that their opinions do matter.
  2. Lecturers and tutors, with their direct and regular contact with students, are best placed to influence student behaviour; the influence includes survey completion and writing constructive comments. The guide for students on giving constructive and professional feedback can be useful to start a conversation in the class (physical or virtual).

ACU expects multiple sources of information on learning and teaching, and a convergence of evidence in drawing conclusions (see section 4. Underlying Principles in the Evaluation of Learning and Teaching Policy). In addition to summative evaluation of learning/teaching (Student Evaluation of Learning and Teaching surveys, Professional Experience surveys, etc.), a formative evaluation process is valuable for identifying an emerging issue with current student cohorts and making just-in-time adjustments.

Views from both colleagues and students are relevant; Peer Observation and Review of Teaching (PORT) and ACU Unitpulse (for units in LEO) are two examples of tools to assist in refining teaching practice. 

I urge you to use all available resources to facilitate student reflection on the impact/value of feedback to all key stakeholders - students, staff, organisational management and external bodies (Australian Government and professional bodies). ACU's Learning and Teaching webpage is a good starting point to discover relevant resources for evidence base practice in learning and teaching.

As I've conveyed through other means of communication in the past, we have an age of pragmatism rather than idealism in education; to achieve transformative education, we need to be focused, collaborative and practical.

Best wishes,
Professor Anne Cummins
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching)

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