Engaging students in the evaluation process

Published: Wednesday 17th August 2016

Discussions with Students about Evaluating Units and Teaching

The interim Student Evaluation of Learning and Teaching (SELT) survey reports, for units taught in Semester 1 and other study periods in the first half of this year, were made accessible to relevant staff on 15 July 2015.

When reflecting on SELT data from previous classes, it is both useful and necessary to think about how to engage students in the evaluation process for the current semester.

A key strategy to engage students with the SELT surveys is early discussions with them about the value of student feedback at various organisational levels of ACU. When introducing the unit or as early as possible in the study period, teaching staff can discuss the feedback from past classes, and perhaps ask the current class about their expectations of the unit. Clarifying student perceptions about the unit at the outset may prevent unrealistic expectations. Giving students tangible examples of changes/ improvements made as a result of previous feedback helps to emphasise both the importance of the evaluation process and the necessity for collecting the views of all or most students on their learning experiences.

Other possible sources for information

Since the SELT survey results are reported twice in a year (at the end of each of exam period for each Semester), the information collected through these surveys can only be utilised in future offerings of units. The general recommendation is to use formative evaluation tools that allow development in the unit during the current study period. There are a range of alternative feedback strategies that can be used to gauge how the unit is progressing. These include polls and quizzes which allow for immediate adjustments to the unit and respond to issues students have in a timely manner.

Teaching students to give professional and constructive feedback

It is a good idea to let students know that their comments in response to the open-ended questions in the survey help in clarifying the numerical summaries for rating-type items, and that their comments are taken seriously.  Staff may need to emphasise to students that their feedback should be professional, considerate and constructive.  Advise them to be specific, provide examples and suggest strategies for improvement.  There is a guide for students on giving constructive feedback on the Closing the Evaluation Feedback Loop webpage that can be used as a guide or distributed to students.