Listening to students in real time: how feedback leads to success

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Like all robust development processes, our learning design approach includes a number of opportunities to learn from feedback. One is our curriculum design student panel (aimed at capturing students’ views on learning design ideas before they’re live). Another is real-time student feedback (RTSF), which gathers feedback from students as they’re studying with the aim of ensuring they get the support they need. Short questionnaires focusing on recently studied topics are embedded into students’ online study planners so they can reflect and comment on their experiences and receive extra guidance based on their comments.

Our module teams can learn from RTSF too. In this post, we take a look at how students and module teams can benefit from RTSF and some of the impacts it’s making.

The value of real-time feedback

RTSF helps students in several ways. For example, it prompts recall of key concepts and helps them reflect on their own study experience and methods. It also gives them a chance to get involved in learning design – something members of our curriculum design student panel tell us they enjoy – and learn about their own learning.

Module teams can learn from RTSF too. It prompts them reflect on the topics that students found challenging and why they might need more support than was initially planned. They can also use RTSF to gather feedback on innovative or previously successful aspects of a module. This can reveal whether students have responded new materials as expected or whether extra guidance or a rethink is needed. All of this helps our module teams build a more detailed picture of students, their expectations and their needs.

What students have told us

Here’s a snapshot of some of the feedback we’ve gathered this year:

Engineering students were asked for feedback on the collaborative activities on their module. Groupwork is an important aspect of working in the industry so it was important that skills were embedded into the learning activities. Students told us that they enjoyed the collaborative work although many of them found it challenging. They provided a number of suggestions for guidance that the module team are considering for future presentations, including adding tutor support and a dedicated tutorial.

Language students commented on a new café-style event designed to help them practise their conversation skills and build confidence before an assignment. They reported that they found the event useful, and the module team plan to include it again in future presentations.

English literature students were asked about a new book club activity and in particular, how it helped them build independent study skills. They responded with enthusiasm for the club and the opportunities it presented not just to build skills but also to interact with other students. This approach will be used for other modules.

Postgraduate business students gave feedback about preparing for a visual essay that formed part of an assessment.  Responses showed that many students felt uncertain about visual essays, prompting the module team to provide additional guidance through tutor group forums and tutorials.

Students on an education module provided comments about the media available and the amount of time they spent studying different topics. The module team responded by clarifying information about expected study times.

Students on a modern languages module commented on the personal development planning opportunities available. Some felt they hadn’t made the most of these, so an extra tutorial was provided to offer extra support.

RTSF: getting started

RTSF is designed to be easy for students to engage with. Questionnaires are designed to be short and focused to make the most of students’ time. Questions are focused on recent material so that students can remember what they’re being asked about and provide feedback easily.

We’ve also made it easy for our module teams. For example, we’ve developed templates to help busy module authors develop questionnaires that will generate information they can act on.

Visit our RTSF intranet site [internal link] for more information about how to embed RTSF into a module.

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