With policy drivers including the June 2011 Higher Education White Paper “Students at the Heart of the System” and the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (2018) firmly stating that student evaluation at module level is a key component in learning enhancement, institutions across the country have systems in place to capture student feedback on module content and teaching.
But are these systems offering the best they can in terms of efficiency, closing the feedback loop and identifying areas of best practice? And what about comparing data on a like for like basis across programmes, schools and the whole institution? If the university isn’t using a standardised system across all modules and departments, it’s missing some pretty critical tricks.
As we all know, the key purpose of module evaluation is to gather information around the design, delivery and assessment of modules. Module evaluation provides student feedback and information on:
Module evaluation enables universities to respond to student views and make improvements that should result in a better learning experience for students. This, in turn, can also improve satisfaction rates in national surveys.
The very best way to conduct module evaluation is in a standardised, digital format that is consistent across all departments.
When differing systems of evaluation are deployed across a university, there is no possibility of comparing like for like data to create an institution-wide picture. Students on different modules have different experiences of evaluation and feedback. More staff spend more time on routine, survey-related processes. Closing the loop consistently isn’t possible. And, in some cases, the environmental impact of using paper can be significant.
When harmonising the way each individual module is evaluated across an entire institution and implementing a digital solution you realise powerful benefits:
Module evaluation is now regarded across the higher education sector as an integral part of a university’s quality assurance system and contributes to the public accountability of higher education. It is a key way for universities to obtain student feedback on their module learning experience and continually monitor and enhance the quality of its provision. It is also a key way of strengthening the student voice around earning experiences and supporting student engagement and retention.
The June 2011 Higher Education White Paper ‘Students at the Heart of the System’ set out the Government’s expectation that student evaluation at module level be used in an ‘open and transparent’ way to inform ‘a continuous process of improving teaching quality’:
allowing students and lecturers within a university to see this feedback at an individual module level will help students to choose the best course for them and to drive an improvement in the quality of teaching.
The UK Quality Code for Higher Education (2018) includes this underlying practice for all higher education providers:
The provider engages students individually and collectively in the development, assurance and enhancement of the quality of their educational experience.
Additionally, the Quality Code contains the following advice and guidance:
- Providers agree strategic principles for monitoring and evaluation to ensure processes are applied systematically and operated consistently.
- Providers normalise monitoring and evaluation as well as undertaking routine formal activities.
- Providers evaluate, analyse and use the information generated from monitoring to learn and improve.
- Student engagement through partnership working is integral to the culture of higher education, however and wherever provision is delivered – student engagement is led strategically, but widely owned.
- Higher education providers, in partnership with their student body, define, promote, monitor and evaluate the range of opportunities to enable all students to engage in quality assurance and enhancement processes.
- Effective student engagement supports enhancements, innovation and transformation in the community within and outside the provider, driving improvements to the experience of students.
- Providers work in partnership with the student body to close the feedback loop.