Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Student Feedback

When I took over as director of an MSc programme I had to review the module feedback of my colleagues. One of the lecturers consistently had amazing feedback. I found this odd as I saw his module content and from a teaching perspective it was amongst the worst I have seen. It was minimum activity and a huge amount of facts, long meandering lectures that showed no direction, a total lack of coherence and no sort of learning objectives. His assessments were weak and easily subject to plagiarism and the marks were so high that this brought comment from the external examiner who wanted to know why, and in fact we nearly had to lower them.
So why did he get good feedback? The students were not learning and certainly not learning deeply. It was fun and crazy and something they did not follow at all. But he gave them a nice easy assessment so that didn't matter. So they all gave him the great feedback.
Is the perfect situation where we give the students the answers to the assessment in the course, where we do not try to teach them anything. So we get a 100% pass rate and perfect feedback and they go out thinking they know it all.
There is something wrong with this. Students do not have to like you, but you do want to see some results. You do want to see learning. There is nothing worse than seeing a student panic and not respond to your teaching. None of us go out of our way to make students suffer. But have we allowed our teaching to be dominated too much by student feedback? When is is constructive and when is it an example of student apathy and laziness?

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