Reflecting on student feedback on learning and unit experience
While eVALUate is designed to help us understand the student experience of the unit and how our teaching practice can be improved, receiving this feedback can nevertheless be an unsettling process.
It can be a tough process for both yourself as the unit chair, and the staff who teach in your unit. It is especially difficult as student comments often contradict each other. One student may have loved the lectures, another says they were a waste of time.
Comments about the unit content and overall teaching approach may require the unit as a whole, or parts of it, to be re-developed.
Comments about teachers’ performance may require more sensitive handling. A discussion with your Director of Teaching is a good place to start, particularly if it involves the performance of another staff member.
It can be worthwhile to consider evaluations between different staff who taught the unit. If most staff receive good evaluations and one received poor evaluations, that staff member may need more support, or potentially may not be called on to teach the unit in the future.
When reflecting on feedback, it’s important to remember that students may perceive our teaching decisions differently than we intended. If there is a clear pattern of gaps identified, some changes may need to be made for the unit’s next offering.
You can use this set of suggestions for what you can do with the comments from eVALUate to make positive changes to your unit or teaching style in future offerings. However, as eVALUate data becomes available on the first day of the next trimester, such changes might be more realistic for the next trimester.
Sometimes, student feedback is not always constructive. As Lisa Hanna, Dean of Students, puts it:
Students do not always express their views appropriately. The most effective approach in dealing with this is one of education and prevention. As teaching staff, you have a key role to play in this approach. When you are encouraging your students to complete eVALUate, reinforce that we expect them to give their views in a constructive and professional manner.
If you or your teaching staff receive abusive, demeaning or threatening comments, this can be raised with the Dean of Students for follow up action.