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Sources of feedback - the four lenses: Stage 2

Traditionally, in the context of higher education there are three main sources of feedback available for evaluation of your teaching:

  • Students
  • Colleagues
  • Yourself (reviewing your teaching)

A good example that explains sources of feedback comes from Brookfield (1995) who suggested that when teachers evaluate their practice they should look at themselves through four lenses; these include the three sources above and a fourth lens for reflection (theory) which is found in educational research / literature. The four lenses were introduced in the course Introduction to learning and teaching in higher education.

Strategies for gathering feedback data

The table summarises Brookfield’s four lenses and adds an additional lens of learning analytics as proposed by Vigentini, Mirriahi and Kligyte (2016).

Lenses Description Examples of sources of data
Self-Reflection (autobiographical) A personal exploration of whether the learning and/or teaching strategy led to the intended outcome or if changes are needed for next time. reflective portfolio or journal
Peer Lens Peer feedback on a course design or on teaching can inform future changes to the course or teaching approach. The uptake of the same approach after peer observation or discussion by colleagues can be evidence of impact and effectiveness of one’s teaching. peer observation or feedback, videos, discussion, course review
Theory or Scholarship the findings published in the literature. Potential dissemination of new findings through conference proceedings, journals, forums or institutional events. dissemination of own findings
Learning Analytics (Vigentini, Mirriahi & Kligyte, 2016) Online technologies capture students’ use of activities, resources, and assessments and many of them provide real-time analytics or visualisations that can help inform course design and teaching strategy decisions. Such data can help gauge the effectiveness of the course design and allow just-in-time interventions or improvements. Learning Management Systems (LMS)/ Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) reports, video analytics, discussion forum social network visualisations, dashboards with LMS/VLE data plus student performance/progression data

Sources of evidence for reflection

As you develop your reflective ePortfolio you will be able to draw on a diverse range of sources of feedback and sources of evidence of your practice. We have provided a resource (UNSW, 2014) in ‘Want to know more?’ document to give you an indication of the types of evidence educators can use when developing their reflective ePortfolio on the following areas:

  • Evidence for the facilitation of student learning
  • Evidence for the development, review or revision of curricula and/or learning and teaching resources
  • Evidence of scholarship of learning and teaching
  • Evidence of professional development
  • Evidence of leadership and management of learning and teaching.

Talking point

Collecting feedback and evidence of your educational practice is only the beginning of a process. The important action is how you reflect on the feedback data.

From the above list choose one example of evidence you have used, or would consider using, and in a sentence explain how you would use it to prompt your reflective practice.

Want to know more?

If you would like to more about this topic on sources of feedback there are additional resources listed in the Want to know more.pdf for this step.


Brookfield, S.D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

UNSW (2014). Gathering evidence of your teaching - Teaching Gateway. Sydney: Author.

Vigentini, L., Mirriahi, N., & Kligyte, G. (2016). From reflective practitioner to active researcher: Towards a role for learning analytics in higher education scholarship. In M. Spector, B. B. Lockee, & M. D. Childress (Eds.), Learning, design and technology: An international compendium of theory, research, practice, and policy. New York: Springer.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney