Effective Student Feedback and Representation

1 Introduction

1.1 The University requires the gathering of feedback from students for the improvement of structures and learning and teaching provision within programmes and modules. The student experience is the prime focus of all quality assurance in the University, and this policy therefore has the following aims:

i. To achieve a consistent and comprehensive approach to gaining student  feedback on all aspects of the student learning experience;

ii. To ensure that feedback is gained from students at module, programme and institutional level;

iii. To ensure that students are informed of the outcomes of the feedback given by them, closing the loop;

iv. To ensure that programme teams are able to act swiftly to address issues of concern and to share good practice;

v. To promote dialogue between students and tutors;

vi. To provide more efficient means of data collection and analysis;

vii. To gather core data to allow comparison and the identification of trends;

viii. To provide opportunities for Colleges and Departments to maintain and develop their distinctive models additional to core data gathering;

ix. To ensure the use of varied feedback methods, appropriate to the student context;

x. To clarify roles and responsibilities in relation to data gathering, analysis, action planning and communication of responses.

2 The Model

2.1 The model is designed to ensure that feedback is systematically and effectively gathered at module, programme and institutional level. There will be some variation between FE and HE given the specific requirements of funding bodies. However this will be kept to a minimum. Wherever possible students based overseas will also follow similar systems and processes.

2.2 At module level, feedback will be achieved by the use of dialogue which will be face-to-face for on-campus students and those studying in the University’s communities, and gained by other methods e.g. email for students using distributed learning. Modules provide the key element of curriculum and its assessment and associated credits for students at HE level (with courses the corresponding elements at FE level). Programmes, whether specialist or combined subject, are made up of the building bricks of modules, and it is essential that student feedback is obtained at the module level. Programme Committees (see section G5) will be the main formal vehicle for this feedback. Colleges/UDOL may wish to operate questionnaires at module level, e.g. to meet the requirements of a professional or statutory body, although duplication of data gained at programme level should be avoided.

2.3 At programme level, formal feedback will be achieved through:

i. Two programme questionnaires which contain a number of core questions, capable of quantitative analysis. The first questionnaire is designed to capture the student experience during the first few weeks of study focusing on admissions, induction and student support; the second questionnaire completed towards the end of each academic year will illicit feedback on teaching and learning, assessment and learning resources, and is closely linked to the National Student Survey (NSS).

ii. Programme Committees (see section G5) will provide an important forum in which staff and students can discuss and recommend on matters relating to the quality of the student experience.

2.4 At institutional level, the University supports the Students’ Union in hosting a conference which provides an opportunity for student representatives to contribute to projects and discussions to enhance the student experience. The Student Experience Strategy oversees NSS and regular feedback campaigns to draw together student opinion. Responsibility for co-ordinating actions arising from this feedback, and reporting outcomes, lies initially with the Strategy Group, and the University Quality Enhancement Committee. There are two further large scale surveys: Library services (managed by Learning Enhancement and Innovation) and enrolment (managed by Student Support & Information Services). Feedback from these surveys informs service development and library issues are raised, as required, by LIS representatives at Programme Committees.

2.5 The model will operate for all University of Derby provision, including overseas and franchise where delivery is by University staff. For remaining provision, equivalent forms of gaining feedback will be used. For FE, courses will be evaluated using questionnaires and focus groups supported by the use of student councils to meet the requirements of funding bodies.

2.6 Colleges and Departments may consider additional good practice mechanisms for communication with students including consultative fora. Year meetings, weekly reviews, feedback on specific initiatives and a plethora of other practices all complement the basic model serve to enhance the quality of the student and tutor experience.

3 Roles and Responsibilities: Module Level Feedback

i. Programme Leaders and Module Leaders are responsible for implementing action arising, and for informing support services of specific issues.

ii. Issues which are outside the control of programmes should be communicated to the relevant academic or departmental managers. Where major and intractable problems impact directly on academic quality and standards, such communications to managers should be copied to the Dean - Learning Enhancement and Innovation.

iii. Programme Leaders will inform students of the outcomes of resulting actions. They may use noticeboard, electronic bulletin board or conferences, as appropriate. Module Leaders may also feedback to students, if the opportunity arises.

4 Roles and Responsibilities: Programme Level Feedback

i. Heads of Subject are responsible for ensuring that procedures are carried out.

ii. Responsibility for the accurate recording of feedback lies with the Programme Leader.

iii. Decisions on short- and longer-term action are the responsibility of the Programme Committee, and the Programme Leader is responsible for implementation.

iv. Actions taken in response to feedback should be recorded at the next Programme Committee.

v. Any issues that cannot be resolved easily at Programme Committee level must be referred to the School Quality Enhancement Committee (SQEC).

vi. Issues which are outside the control of programmes should be communicated to the relevant academic or departmental managers as quickly as possible. Where major and intractable problems impact directly on academic quality and standards, such communications to managers should be copied to the Dean - Learning Enhancement and Innovation.

vii. Ongoing issues must feed into College annual monitoring procedures.

viii. Communication to students of responses to feedback is the responsibility of both the student representatives and of the Programme Leader. The latter may use noticeboard, electronic bulletin board or conferences, as appropriate.

ix. Curriculum Development Managers monitor the process, maintain oversight and construct the College action plan.

Colleges may also decide to hold additional consultative fora for students, for example:

i. To cater better for different categories of students such as part-time;

ii. To encourage joint problem-solving;

iii. To encourage informal dialogue for immediate resolution of issues;

iv. To explore further issues raised in Programme Committees;

v. To widen consultation beyond representatives;

vi. To encourage students to discuss their evaluations with tutors in order to promote ownership of feedback and an understanding of its implications.

5 The Programme Committee

5.1 Programme Committees provide a forum in which staff and students can discuss and recommend on matters relating to the quality of the student experience. Dialogue with students is therefore a key function of this Committee and the following measures are intended to ensure that the Committee provides an effective forum for communication.

i. A minimum of three Programme Committees will be held during teaching weeks to enable student attendance (other Programme Committees may be held at other times to which the measures below do not apply).

ii. Programme Committees should be scheduled on the optimum day and time to facilitate student attendance.

iii. A minimum of 2 students per stage should be elected for all programmes. These should contain as wide a range of study modes and stages as possible including online and joint honours as a minimum for eligible programmes.

iv. The agenda for Programme Committees will reflect the QAA and OFSTED emphasis on evaluation of standards and student learning opportunities. The aim is to achieve student, tutor and (where appropriate) relayed external examiner exchange of views throughout, with no designated student “slot”. However, where student input has been minimal, chairs will designate specific time for comprehensive student feedback before the end of the meeting.

v. If for any reason no students are present from a level of the programme, then at the first opportunity the Programme Leader will organise a special consultative forum for students to give feedback. Notes will be taken at this forum and become an addendum to Programme Committee minutes.

5.2 Colleges should agree such processes, and the way in which feedback thus gained is integrated within quality management and enhancement processes. The University encourages the continued use and development of these additional fora, but acknowledges the importance of the Programme Committee in terms of its place in ensuring that student feedback is embedded in quality monitoring procedures.

5.3 Within University policy, Colleges should provide for an effective student representation system which should be introduced and promoted directly to new and current students, so that they understand both roles and processes involved. Student representatives should be selected by their peers and staff should consider whether a formal or informal ballot is most appropriate in any particular situation. Co-options might be encouraged where necessary to provide diversity and inclusion of possible minority interests or perspectives within the student body.