Preparing Students for Feedback

Your feedback helps us shape and improve the current and future experiences of students at GCU. You will have the opportunity to provide regular feedback on your academic and student experience via various channels, including:

  • Class/Academic representatives
  • Student Staff Consultative Groups
  • Pause for Reflection and Feedback Week
  • Module evaluations
  • Student surveys (e.g. the National Student Survey)

In your module evaluations and other online student experience surveys, you may be asked to provide written comments about your experiences. This resource provides tips and guidance for students on how to provide meaningful written comments.

Module Evaluations

Module evaluations at GCU take place at the end of each trimester, and are an important part of the University's quality enhancement processes. In your module evaluations, you will have the opportunity to tell your module leader what you think worked well, and what you think could be better. Sharing your experiences helps module leaders continue to improve the design, delivery and assessment of modules. The feedback you provide is completely confidential. No individuals are identified in reporting of module evaluation results and all data collected is held securely. Module leaders are asked to review students’ responses to the evaluations, and communicate any actions arising from them. This is known as ‘closing the feedback loop’ (CTFL).

In addition to asking you to rate your level of agreement with a number of statements about your learning experience (e.g. Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module) you will also be invited to leave written comments. This is a valuable opportunity for you to provide feedback about your experiences in your own words.

The next section provides some guidance on how to make the best of this opportunity to make sure that your voice is heard. This guidance applies to module evaluations, as well as to any other online surveys you may be asked to complete.

Providing written comments

In your module evaluations and other online student experience surveys, you may be asked to provide written comments about your experiences. Your written comments are a valuable source of feedback. In order for staff to get the most out of your comments, please try to ensure that your comments are:

  • Constructive
  • Concise
  • Relevant
  • Specific
  • Realistic
  • Focused on the issue, not the person
  • Based on first-hand experience

The following sections include some tips and examples on each of the above points, as well as information on implicit bias, and how this can play out in module evaluations. We also talk about the importance of professionalism.

Tips and examples
  • Be constructive: Where possible, try to suggest solutions and improvements. For example: ‘The tutorials would have been much better if we had been split into groups to discuss the questions’.
  • Be concise: The ability to be concise is an important skill in effective communication. Take a moment to think about what you really want to say before you start typing. This way, whoever reads your comments won’t get lost or confused in unnecessary details.
  • Provide relevant comments: Remember to keep your comment relevant to the question/survey. For example, when completing your module evaluations, make sure that your comments are about the module, it’s delivery, and the support you have received i.e. things that the module leader can take action on.
  • Be specific: Try to explain specifically what you liked or didn’t like. For example, ‘I really enjoyed this module’ is very general, whereas ‘I especially enjoyed the seminars. They were very informative and the seminar leader was great at answering our questions’ explains what specific aspects of the module you enjoyed and why.
  • Be realistic: Try to be reasonable in your expectations and suggestions. For example, suggesting that an essential component of your module/course be scrapped is unrealistic. Instead, try to explain why you didn’t like it and/or make suggestions on how it could be improved.
  • Focus on the issue, not the person: Please remember that real people will read your comments. Please keep in mind the following points.
    • Try to focus on the situation, not the person
    • Be mindful of the tone and language you use. While criticism may be valid, it should always be expressed appropriately. If you would not say it face-to-face, then re-consider the wording of your comment to ensure that your meaning is conveyed without being hurtful to the individual.
    • Writing offensive, discriminatory or personally insulting comments is not acceptable as per the University's values, Code of Student Conduct and our Dignity at Work and Study Policy which outlines our zero tolerance approach to any form of harassment and victimisation, racism, sexism, gender-based violence, homophobia and any other unacceptable behaviour. Comments of this nature will be subject to removal and may be taken forward in line with the Code of Student Conduct.
  • Based on first-hand experience: Your comments should be based on your own experience of the module (rather than hear-say or assumptions).

 

Implicit bias
  • What is implicit bias?

Implicit bias (or unconscious bias) is when our unconscious mind makes snap judgments about people and situations, based on our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. It can lead us to unconsciously favour people that are ‘like us’ based on things like gender, and social, or other characteristics.

  • How does implicit bias play out in module evaluations?

Research has found that students’ evaluations of teaching can be influenced by a range of demographic characteristics of their instructors, including attractiveness, age, race, gender, and academic discipline. For example, there is evidence of gender bias and racial bias in teaching evaluations, and that these biases can cause more effective instructors to receive lower scores than less effective instructors.

  • How might implicit biases be expressed in feedback?

A common way in which our implicit biases play out in practice is through microaggressions. These are brief and commonplace daily words, actions and behaviours, often unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults. An example of this would be dismissive comments about foreign accents or English language ability being used to question a lecturer’s professional competence.

Examples of microaggressions can be viewed in this PDF download from Advance HE's Tackling Racism on Campus project.

  • Why is it important to be aware of implicit bias?

We all have implicit bias, but being aware of, and acknowledging it, can help reduce our susceptibility to it. Consider what biases are most likely to affect you. Just being conscious of your biases and actively thinking about how they might influence our judgements, can help to reduce the effects.

Professionalism and the Code of Student Conduct

Glasgow Caledonian University is committed to providing a high quality teaching and learning environment that is conducive to the academic and social well-being of the University community. High standards of conduct are necessary for the benefit of all members of the University and the maintenance of the University's reputation. Students are expected to behave at all times in a way which demonstrates respect for the University, its students, staff and the wider community.

It is the responsibility of all students to ensure that they have read and are familiar with the Code of Student Conduct. The Code is designed to encourage all students to meet the standards of behaviour required by the University. It is essential that all students comply with these standards and action may be taken where comments are considered to breach the Code of Student Conduct.

Students on certain professionally registered programmes are also subject to the University’s Fitness to Practise Regulations.

Other ways to raise issues

GCU is committed to delivering an excellent student experience. While students are invited to provide feedback on their modules and/or wider student experience via module evaluations and other student surveys, for individual issues, there are a number of other channels through which students can raise concerns:

  • Talk to a member of staff directly involved with the problem you are experiencing. Often this is the quickest and easiest way that a problem can be resolved.
  • Talk to a member of staff within your Programme Team such as a Module Leader, your Programme Leader, Programme Co-ordinator, Personal Tutor, or Year Tutor.
  • Talk to your Class/Academic Representative. Class/Academic Representatives are responsible for seeking student opinion on academic and other issues and feed these back to members of staff through formal and informal channels.
  • Talk to the GCU Students’ Association. GCUSA have an Advice Centre where you can discuss issues with a Student Adviser who can advise and support you on the options and procedures for dealing with your complaint.

If you have spoken with one or all of these contacts and feel that the issue remains unresolved, then you can make a complaint. Please see the Complaints section on the University’s website for further information on how to do this: http://www.gcu.ac.uk/gaq/appealscomplaintsstudentconduct/

We hope you find this short guide helpful. The tips provided will help you throughout your GCU career and beyond, not just in online surveys, but also when participating in online forums, professional conversations and meetings with other learners or colleagues, either online or in person.

Further information:

For further information about module evaluations and other student surveys at GCU, please visit https://www.gcu.ac.uk/student/getinvolved/surveys/

For any questions, please contact: studentsurveys@gcu.ac.uk