Your Feedback Matters
NUS gathers feedback from our 37,000-strong student population via the Online Student Feedback Exercise, which is carried out at the end of every semester.
Why do we go through the Student Feedback Exercise, time and again, semester after semester? Simply put, we want to improve on the teaching and educational experience delivered. Good feedback helps us to learn and to better ourselves. Likewise, student feedback helps faculty members to take stock, reflect, consolidate, and hopefully, improve.
Let me take this opportunity to share more about the Student Feedback Exercise at NUS.
Your Feedback is Anonymous
First, I would like to assure all students that when you submit your feedback via the online system, your identities are not made known to the teaching staff. Each semester, our lecturers and tutors receive an aggregated report for their modules with quantitative teaching scores and qualitative comments. Scores are presented as an average, and comments are not attributable to any individual. For readers who are interested, here is a report with names and identities suitably withheld.
Sometimes, a student may (whether purposely or inadvertently) make a remark that gives his or her identity away. This is fairly uncommon, and should it occur, students should not worry about possible ramifications on one’s grades. The Student Feedback report is released to Departments, and onward to lecturers and tutors, only after exam results have been finalised.
Improving Teaching and Learning at NUS
Students’ feedback on modules provides important input about the way we teach and learn at NUS. We have always encouraged our Departments to reflect on the student feedback collected and channel it back into improving the delivery of the modules in subsequent semesters.
Through the Student Feedback Exercise, we are able to identify faculty members who are stronger in teaching, and their pedagogical strengths that others can learn from. NUS recognises and rewards faculty members who teach well; Teaching Excellence Awards are based on, amongst other criteria, positive student feedback. (The Online Student Feedback Exercise contains a section for students to nominate their lecturers for Teaching Excellence Awards, which the University gives out every year.)
The Student Feedback Exercise also allows us to identify faculty members who are weaker in teaching. Deans and the Department Heads will mentor these faculty members personally, and leverage on available university resources to help them improve their pedagogical techniques and communication skills. This is a quality enhancement measure that NUS has put in place since two years ago, and I am heartened that so far, the faculty members concerned have found the additional mentoring and guidance useful, and have since improved on their teaching.
I want to add that NUS is not on a ‘witch-hunt’ for poor teachers through the Student Feedback Exercise. In reviewing Student Feedback, we look beyond the scores to consider carefully the qualitative feedback, as well as circumstances surrounding the module. For example, some faculty members may suffer a ‘dip’ in their Student Feedback Score when they introduce new teaching pedagogies for a particular module.
We Welcome Feedback
Having read this far, I hope the Student Feedback Exercise has become less of a ‘black box’. Your feedback matters to the University, to the Department, and to the faculty member. There is follow up, and follow through. Your feedback goes a long way in shaping teaching and the standards of teaching at NUS. I would like to encourage all students to take time to leave constructive feedback for the modules you have read.
At the macro-level, the Student Feedback scores indicate a high level of satisfaction with teaching at NUS. Take AY2012/2013 for example, of the 5350 teaching activities, over 98.6% of modules achieved an average score of at least 3.0, and over 62.7% of modules achieved an average score of at least 4.0. (This is using a 5-point Likert scale.)
In the next post, I will share with you the NUS Teaching Academy’s Review on Student Feedback, and my responses to their recommended measures.