In Academic Year 2013/2014, Semester 1, the student feedback system was revamped and following three major aspects were implemented:
In the year 2006, an additional question (Question No. 4) has been introduced for all research oriented modules. The research question is stated below for reference:
"The teacher has helped me develop relevant research skills (e.g., formulation of research problems/questions, literature search/evaluation, manipulation skills, manuscript preparation)"
** It is important for the module offering department to indicate whether the question has to be included in the evaluation exercise during the data capturing phase, else by default it will be set as "Not Applicable (N.A.)"
The following were communicated to the Faculty Deans by the Office of the Provost (PVO) in 2002.
Minimum ‘qualification’ for evaluation
A faculty member who teaches less than 5 sessions (all forms of teaching activity) in a module/course will not be evaluated, since it is unlikely that any meaningful feedback can be obtained unless there is sufficient contact with students.
Classes with less than 10 students will not be included in the exercise.
Where a faculty member teaches a module offered by another faculty/department, his Dean/Head should have access to the feedback reports of the department offering the module. Similarly, where a module is exported to another faculty/department, the Dean/Head of that faculty/department should have access to the reports of ‘guest’ teacher’s department.
1. Changes to the Current Student Feedback System
a) Reduction in the number of common questions (i.e. common to all faculty members at NUS) from 6 to 4
- based on high correlation found in student responses to the current questions
- creates space for faculty/school/department specific questions
- can help to reduce survey fatigue for students
b) Provide a list of teacher quality attributes that the students can click on — this helps in gaining a qualitative profile of the teacher
- the attributes are mainly obtained from analysis (text mining) of qualitative comments provided by students over several years
- list contains both positive and opposite attributes
- likely to improve more yield of qualitative data
- this is in addition to the free space available for students to provide qualitative comments on the teacher and the module
c) Make the online SFB report reconfigurable instead of a static document — this is expected to make the student feedback more amenable for interpretation by the faculty members and administrators
- Currently, the qualitative comments from all students are bunched together in different categories such as teachers’ strengths, suggestions for improvement etc. It is not clear what is being said by students who provide highest ratings for the faculty member and those who provide low ratings for the faculty member.
- We propose that the SF report display the qualitative comments categorized into groups based on the grades received by the students and/or their ratings of teaching effectiveness for the module.
- With the changes implemented, the faculty member will be able to see what the different constituents of the class have to say about him/her and about the module. This may provide clarity to revise the module contents, teaching and assessment methods etc.
d) Redesign the software interface for the students to make the feedback process easier and efficient — this is one of the most important aspects of the SFB revamp
- Minimize the number of screens and webpages that the students have to navigate during the feedback process
- Remove some of the unnecessary questions asked of the students (e.g. their address, expected grade in the module etc.)
- Allow the possibility of nominating more than 1 faculty member as Best Teacher.
e) Student participation rates in the end of semester feedback exercise are healthy in level 1 and level 2 modules but there is a serious drop in participation rates in the subsequent years and in the graduate modules. Some possible strategies to increase student participation rates are:
- increasing the time window for the SF exercise
- providing a staggered time period for the SF exercise
- providing various personal and community-oriented incentives for participation
- sending appropriate signals to students by being responsive to their feedback (e.g. Department Heads could outline their plans to improve the quality of student learning experience each year drawing from the student feedback received in the past year)
f) Departments are encouraged to design and implement formal end-of-semester (or end of project) feedback on capstone modules and dissertation projects (FYP) and make it part of the university feedback system. Student feedback from these modules is very important to gauge the quality of mentorship/supervision provided by the faculty members in a top-class research intensive university like NUS.
g) Efforts should be made to educate students about the importance of providing objective and responsible feedback on the teacher(s) and the module. Students to be provided access to 3rd party literature/resources on what constitutes good teaching in the context of higher education.