Student Evaluations

4 thoughts on “Student Evaluations”

  1. Something certainly worth investigating is asking “what would you like to see change in teaching overall” each year – questions relating to the majority of/all modules, not just specific ones. For example, practical visualisations and animations of concepts that can be viewed back after class for revision are much more helpful than static slides, especially in content involving multi-agent systems or most types of algorithms. There’s no real place in individual module feedback for providing such suggestions. I think it’s difficult for quite a few people to get their heads around concepts when they’re first presented so a recap of each module at the end of each topic would be helpful. Often recapping content and showing how different concepts and areas relate to each other is something left to a single slide at the end of a stack of slides and just has a bullet pointed list of titles. Taking 20 minutes to recap each concept briefly and then talking through how each concept is related to the others (for example how multiple algorithms solve the same problem and where some are more suited than others) is something normally rushed at the very end of content.

    Something that is normally not asked in module feedback is whether students read the recommended textbooks or extra content. Feedback forms may be better suited if they listed the topics of the module as well so students had a reminder of what was covered earlier in the course. By then asking questions around the list, i.e. asking for a ranking of the topics found most difficult with a list of the topics, revision classes and recaps could be better prepared.

    Perhaps some warning as to when feedback forms will be given out would be beneficial, as it gives students a chance to prepare suggestions and answers on the difficulty of content that otherwise could not be thought of on the spot. Perhaps different types of response would be better as well, such as asking “how many lectures a week did you attend on average?” or “which topics do you not remember attending?” would give better assistance in targeting revision or extra material. Arguably, however, this just makes it easier over time to not attend lectures.

    I’m certainly looking forward to the new feedback methods though! Quite a few people, I believe, just fill in tick boxes arbitrarily and the feedback collected is not very useful at all!

    1. Those are very good suggestions, Liam! Thank you.

      I think having more detailed feedback is very useful, but then it is also much more difficult to elicit this level of detail from students who struggle to to even fill the short-ish form we have now. There is also the question of how much should we use structured forms, with pre-written answers to choose or ticking a point in a scale, and how much should there be space (and time) for free-flowing answers. We may try different drafts to begin with, and I’d be happy to have students willing to help by looking at possible forms. And you also have a very good point that we should be able to get feedback about teaching in general, rather than looking at individual modules.

      You also touch on animations and visualisations, which is not strictly about feedback, but nevertheless a topic I find very interesting. I believe I am the only member of staff who tried to record some lectures and make them available, but I didn’t get a feeling that students really used the videos. I will continue experimenting with lecture capture next year, though!

      1. I think that moving the evaluation forms to an online system would be of great benefit. This would allow the students to give more detail and also participate if they were unable to make the lecture where the forms were distributed. This would also be of great benefit for students who struggle with writing.

        I agree with Liam’s point about feedback for the teaching in general and I think that is a good area to investigate. However, individual module feedback is still important and should continue to be addressed. I think the current ‘tickbox’ system doesn’t really provide much information and I think a way of ordering topics by difficulty would be an interesting addition to the form. Like Liam said this may provide areas that need to be covered in more depth in future revisions sessions.

        An interesting approach could be to ask students to detail what teaching methods and sessions that they have found to be most helpful across the year. This could help give a couple of positive suggestions that others teaching might find useful.

        As for non-attendance, it may be a useful insight to gather reasons for missing lectures, whether it be due to deadlines, extra-curricular activity and so on.

  2. I’d certainly like to help where possible in viewing the module feedback forms! I have a feeling some may not know where to access lecture recordings, but they’re certainly helpful during revision and for revisiting concepts in later years for a quick brush up!

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