Student Feedback

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.

 

6 comments:

  1. Here comes a feedback based on what I recently experienced,
    It’s about hall life.
    I live in hall on campus and I really would like to keep staying in hall for the next year. However, when I signed up for 5 CCAs, none of them let me in without any explanation. And then when the appeal round is open, one of the CCAs I signed said that they still need members. But I’m not accepted. I wonder if it is an irresponsible work for JCRC. Moreover, I think hall CCAs are not fair to all students living in hall. Their selection is not open, so when some freshies already accepted in the main committee, some freshies are still struggling for what to choose and which CCA is easy to get in.
    So as a freshman, when I strive to taking chances to keep staying in hall, I even cannot get a chance. Without interviews, without any communications, I was shut the door. And under this circumstance, students like us cannot even get the explanation. The feeling is just like we are ignored and don’t have any chances.
    Thus, I wonder if school can provide a better policy for all the students here having the fair chances to live.

  2. It’s nice to know what the interface on the other side looks like, thanks.

    That said, I still do feel the exercise should be held after the examinations, before result release. While I suppose there is a concern that students feeling they did badly may artificially bias their response downwards, one might say that that effect is already present from CA assessment. As long as the deadline is prior to result release, the actual value of the results cannot affect the feedback.

    Reasons are twofold; firstly, being held during the preparation means that students are not exactly free to do the exercise as time they spend doing module feedback is time they do not spend studying for the examinations. However, doing the feedback gives CORS points, so there’s an overwhelming incentive for students to give very little qualitative feedback (even so, short feedback only), and mostly only randomly click 3s, 4s and/or 5s just to complete the form.

    Secondly, because the exercise is prior to examinations professors will never receive feedback on the examination itself, on how questions are set, on the overall style of the assessment, if the assessment was too fast etc, so some information is lost there.

  3. Dear Provost,

    I would love to post and write more regarding the e learning week. However, the amount of extra workload experienced by the students due to the e learning week doesn’t allow me to post anymore. So if it is possible, please open up a forum or this channel for us to comment more on the e learning week. not now.

  4. Dear Provost,

    It is great to have discussions about university policies here, and I would like to share my ideas on the feedback system.

    Sincerely speaking, unlike most of my cohort who just randomly clicked something to complete the feedback, I treasure every chance to provide feedback to the university and have been serious in all feedback I wrote. I would like to point out that not all feedback are constructive, and they should to be weighted in the same way. The students who are really providing feedback might be overwhelmed by the majority of those who treat feedback as only a way to earn more bidding points.

    I understand that it is impossible to differentiate who are really providing the feedback and are not, and it would sound like discriminating if different weight is assigned to feedback. Therefore, I suggest we have open forum for each department, where the education deputy and some professors meet the students and hear their feedback.

    I also suggest that, similar to the bell curve used to differentiate students, an analogous policy might be applied to the teaching staff. The great teachers must be awarded with merit, which the university has done well, while those who cannot teach should bear consequence.

    Lastly, I suggest we have more ‘teachers’ rather than ‘professors’, especially for level 1000 and 2000 modules. From my personal experience, some professors are very good at the area they research, but they are not capable to impart their knowledge to students, or even do not care much about the students they are teaching. For fundamental modules, I believe what students need is a teacher who could help them build the basis to reason and think, rather than a professor who could excel in his/her own research area. In this sense, graduating students and teaching assistants who did well in respective modules may be more helpful. As my last sentence, it is generally true that a teaching assistant can replace a professor as a lecturer.

  5. 1. I think this feedback channel is very insufficient. It is only once in a semester. What’s more, it is at the end of the semeter when students are busy preparing exams. Honestly, students may not take the feedback exercise seriously.

    2. The scope is rather limited to the teaching quality of the professors. Channels for other feedbacks regarding school policies, grading systems etc. that also affect students much are not visible.

    If NUS really has the desire to improve, more feedback channels shall be open and shall not be done just once a semester.

  6. As seen from the comments above, we can tell that the feedback channels in NUS are insufficient (people are giving their feedback here). NUS students do have a lot things to feedback. But there are no channels that are well-known to them, or their requests are just simply got ignored most of the time. Though provost said that school welcomed feedbacks. The reality and the policies in place has shown otherwise.
    And the so-called teaching feedback exercise does not really have much value as it seems.

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