Student Rating Feedback
This week’s tip focuses on student ratings as a form of feedback. There is a significant body of literature regarding student evaluation of teaching (SET). The question of the validity of student ratings with respect to teaching effectiveness or teaching ability remains controversial. Several recent articles including one by Uttli 2016 suggest that there is little or no correlation between student ratings and teaching effectiveness. However, previous reports have suggested a positive correlation. What is clear is that student ratings of instructors can be bias with respect to instructor gender, ethnicity, physical appearance, in addition, discipline, perceived course difficulty, grade expectations, pedagogies, and class size all impact ratings. This does not mean a student ratings have no validity or use, rather these reports caution how the information is use and the necessity to have more than a single measure for course and instructor teaching.
This week the UM’s student feedback questionnaire (SFQ) will be released to students asking them to rate the course and the instructor. In order for student rating to be useful is important that all students complete the survey. The SFQ survey is done online and completion is voluntary. It is important that the response rate is high e.g. above 70%.
To help ensure that students in your courses complete their surveys it is useful to take a few minutes to explain its purpose and why it is important. The purpose of the SFQ instrument is to collect certain information on the course and the instructor so as to identify strengths and weakness to help improve teaching and learning. The information also allows comparisons across instructors, departments, faculties and the University. This provides a benchmarking that can be used to give an idea of how well one’s doing relative to peer groups. Because it is important to have as many students as possible complete the survey is important to remind students both in class and through Moodle to fill in their course surveys. Since the SFQ survey is web-based students can easily fill in the survey using their smart phone. By taking a few minutes at the end of the class to remind to students to complete the survey and allowing a few minutes of class time for them to do this, provides an effective means to increase the percentage of students who complete the form. This is a good use of class time since it will provide you with feedback which can be used the next time you teach the course and you get to leave class a few minutes early. It is best to not be in the room while students are completing the survey.
The University’s SFQ survey instrument does not have to be (should not be) the only way you get feedback on the course and your teaching. For the past decade in all my courses in addition to standard university student rating forms I always incorporate an end of the semester survey to let me know what worked, what didn’t work, which assignments were good, what students like and what could be improved. This can easily be done using the questionnaire tool in Moodle or a Qualtrics Survey. I prefer the latter since it’s easier to set up and modify the survey. I disseminate the Quatlics survey link via Moodle. To encourage students to complete the survey I generally give a few of participation points for completion of the survey. To track completion of the survey I embed the Qualtrics link within a very short Moodle quiz. Students must complete the survey in order to get the answer to the magic question which is the last question in the Moodle quiz, only those students who correctly answer this question receive the participation points.