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Evaluation – collecting feedback from students

How and what kind of feedback to collect from students who are new to online learning, maintaining their wellbeing and their views are captured.
Child giving the camera a thumbs up with a big smile

How’s my teaching?

We all collect feedback and evaluations from our students, it’s a natural part of understanding what works well, how people are getting on and finding areas to improve.

We know you’re missing that immediate feedback your students share; their faces, hands going up, comments made and energy shared. Online is different, you can’t quite read people’s reactions or involvement in the same way. We can approach this issue in ways that are manageable for us and still beneficial for our students.

We’ve just covered the idea that students can be creators of their learning experience. A key part of that can be that you take on their feedback and incorporate changes. We suggest you start small and make it regular. It can become part of your new routine – such as check-ins, warm-ups, weekly sessions, timetabled activities, tutorials or one-to-ones – whatever structure you’re following you can also add in a few key questions to help check students are getting what they need.

Example feedback collection methods:

  • Surveys and polls
  • Asking via email, messaging, webinars
  • Collecting data from platforms
  • Check-ins, stand-ups or live sessions
  • Pastoral and personal support

How to use student feedback

  • Combine it, find trends and themes
  • Use happy sheets (satisfaction rankings)
  • Inform iteration and improvement
  • Don’t try to fix everything at once, be kind to yourself
  • Be honest about what’s not working, remain authentic with your students

Your task (10 mins)

Ask your students one question about their online learning experiences so far, and one you can act on immediately. It may be best via your existing online learning platform, an email or via any regular keep-in-touch moments/ approach you are establishing as ‘contact-time’.

Note: We recommend you make any survey-based approach anonymous to avoid issues with collecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) due to data protection laws and best practice. Even this won’t necessarily remove all PII. A good rule of thumb is to apply your institutional policies online as you would in person.

Some ideas for what to ask:

  • Pastoral – Human connection, how are you?
  • Iteration– What one thing could we change to help?
  • Support – Who’s helping you?
  • Technical – Any connectivity / technical issues?
  • Progress – Are you struggling with anything we’ve covered?
  • Planning – Have you set up a timetable / routine?
  • Wellbeing – Are you sleeping / eating / exercising / taking breaks?
  • Physical – Is your body ok studying from home / remotely?
  • Institutional – is there anything your organisation can provide to help? (could limit to digital, such as subscriptions / access / platforms)

And more – there are many different areas you could cover, but don’t ask everything. Focus on what you can change without upheaval.

There’s so much more we can do for collecting feedback and evaluating how we teach. When you’re new to something, short and quick feedback is more beneficial so we can iterate and improve. Remain being kind to yourself, manage your students’ expectations and stay realistic.

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