Course unit questionnaires
Student feedback on courses is an essential element in quality assurance. Questionnaires are of primary importance in the dialogue with students, since they are the best tool we currently have for collecting objective, detailed and reasonably systematic information on a wide range of questions, which:
- informs the teacher about students' perceptions of the course's strengths and weaknesses;
- can prompt changes in delivery methods, course content, the provision of resources and the structures of support and guidance for the course;
- are useful to staff maintaining teaching portfolios;
- are central to monitoring of teaching standards.
A questionnaire must be issued at least on every alternate offering of each course, including the first year of operation of a new or substantially amended course. All departments are required to use the College's standard course unit questionnaire, which they may supplement with questions of their own, or with additional questionnaires aimed at specialist elements of their provision.
Responses are collated on behalf of departments by Academic Development Services, and will be used only for the purposes of quality enhancement. The aim of this is to save time for staff in academic departments and to allow a minimum level of statistical analysis of the data across the College. This recognises that whilst the information remains the property of the College, the central administration has neither the resources nor a sufficient understanding of the departmental context to provide a full interpretation of the data, which remains the responsibility of the academic department.
In order to gain maximum advantage:
- students should be told how the data will be used, when and how results will be published, and that their contribution is important and taken seriously;
- questionnaires should be distributed and collected (anonymously) in class, ideally in the penultimate week of the course, with the aim of achieving a response rate of at least 75% on each course;
- the Head of Department should discuss a dispassionate summary of the feedback on each course with the lecturers concerned;
- an analysis of questionnaire returns which concern the department as a whole should be published within the department, and referred to as appropriate in the Annual Review report.
Questionnaires for postgraduate research students
Students should be asked to complete the College's feedback questionnaire for postgraduate research students around the time of their Annual Review. Completed forms should be returned to the Director of Graduate Studies (or Head of Department if the Director of Graduate Studies is the student's supervisor) who will summarise the generic feedback for consideration by the department.
It is College policy for every academic department to have a Student:Staff Committee which meets at least once each term on dates advertised in advance. Their principal role is to provide a formal channel of communication within a department, where matters of concern to staff and students can be considered.
The detail of membership and operation may vary from one department to another, with certain minimum expectations, as follows:
- the minutes (and action lists) of each meeting must be published (i.e. displayed on a notice-board) and copied to the Head of Student Services and the Vice-President (Education & Welfare) of the Students' Union;
- appropriate business and the actions which result should be reported in the Annual Review;
- the student representation should reflect the profile of the department in terms of gender, undergraduate/postgraduate, mature, overseas, single/combined honours;
- the Committee should ensure an effective link into the Students' Union Academic Affairs Committee.
A model for the constitution, terms of reference and standing orders of a Student:Staff Committee is set out in the Committees Handook