Just as I am about to convene a group to review how we capture student feedback on modules, and try to find a more uniform way of doing it across faculties, then this interesting article appeared in the Higher, by John Colley of Nottingham University Business School.
Dr Colley considers how universities could improve student satisfaction, recognising that NSS scores have steadily risen over the years.
Firstly he identifies student evaluation of modules, and then discusses the more contentious issue of student evaluation of teaching.
“Unsurprisingly, SET is not universally popular with academics, some of whom yearn for the days when there was no objective way to assess their teaching effectiveness. Some staff are less than cooperative about the process and not all teaching is assessed, but one could argue that SET gives universities access to a tool that could be more fully exploited.”
He also points out that even when poor teaching is identified, then it’s very difficult for universities to do anything about it.
So two anecdotes. Last time I looked at evaluation of teaching, there was uproar that anyone other than the member of staff teaching could see the feedback forms from students. And secondly, I once carried out a peer observation of teaching. I was horrified, so were the students. I reported my findings to the head of subject. The outcome- nothing. For several more years students were given very poor teaching.
In a university that focuses on teaching, I believe that we need to really get to grips with this. If we want to improve student attainment, we need to know how teaching is being received by our students.