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					Student Feedback Policy
July 2007
Document title

Student Feedback Policy
July 2007
Document author and department                   Responsible person and department

Dr Valda Bunker, Director,                       Rebecca Bunting,
Department for Curriculum and                    Pro Vice-Chancellor,
Quality Enhancement (DCQE)                       Directorate
Approving body                                   Date of approval


Academic Council                                 3 July 2007, Min 68

Review date                                      Edition no.                 ID code


July 2010                                        4                           69

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Contents
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Page no.


Background ...........................................................................................................................................................................................            4


Key changes .........................................................................................................................................................................................             4


1.      Principles ......................................................................................................................................................................................         4


2.      Policy ............................................................................................................................................................................................       4


3.      Procedures ...................................................................................................................................................................................            5




  UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH                                                                                                                       STUDENT FEEDBACK POLICY JULY 2007                            3
Background                                                                        the University-level may focus also on gathering
                                                                                  information for example about the knowledge and
The previous Student Feedback Policy was introduced in 1993                       behaviour of students in order to improve the quality
(edition 1), then reviewed and essentially endorsed in 2000–01                    of students’ experience and learning across all stages
(edition 2). A Student Feedback Task Group, convened in                           of the student life cycle.
2003, proposed significant changes, which focused on the
introduction of University-wide standardised course and unit                1.3   It is necessary to take into account the NSS
feedback questionnaires. The recommendations were approved                        procedures and survey in further developing our
by Academic Council and introduced in the academic year                           own internal feedback mechanisms. The SS should
2004–05 (edition 3). Subsequently, the National Student Survey                    supplement our own internal work and not unduly add
(NSS) was developed and it is also now in its third year of                       to the internal burden.
operation. However, the enhancement of student feedback
mechanisms through an almost simultaneous introduction of                   1.4   The primary emphasis will be on the production of
more standardised questionnaires together with the NSS has not                    quantitative survey data rather than the development
been accompanied by an appropriate revision of extant student                     of qualitative data. Nevertheless, qualitative feedback
feedback policy.                                                                  from students on more specific matters may also be
                                                                                  gathered by such means as focus groups or student
Consequently, it was proposed that the Student Feedback Policy                    user panels.
should be formally revised and updated. This would take account
of the above developments in conjunction with knowledge and
experience acquired of administering standardised questionnaires.        2. Policy
                                                                            2.1   Student feedback should be systematically collected
Key changes                                                                       from students on all taught undergraduate and
                                                                                  postgraduate courses. It should take place at three
The key policy changes from the previous protocol approved in                     levels of operation:
2004 are as follows:                                                              • the unit level;
• In view of the establishment of the NSS, a commitment to                        • the course level;
  undertake a periodic, University-wide internal student survey is                • the University level through user surveys conducted
  abandoned.                                                                        for example by DCQE, IS, the Library, the Student
• The course-level questionnaire need not be administered at the                    Finance Centre and other parts of Student Advice
  final undergraduate level; rather the focus at this level should                   Services.
  be on securing high feedback response levels for the NSS.
• An overall satisfaction question will be included in all course           2.2   All academic departments should use common
  and unit-level questionnaires. This should mimic the NSS                        University-defined questionnaires for securing student
  question: ‘overall I am satisfied with this course/unit’. It is                  feedback at the course and unit level. It is recognised
  proposed that for at least the next two years an average score                  that scope should exist for departments and subject/
  3.75 for this question should be the threshold standard with an                 course teams to add their own specific questions to
  expectation that average scores over 4.0 should become the                      the standard ones.
  norm.
                                                                            2.3   Course-level feedback should be secured annually
• In line with their job description, Associate Deans (Students)
                                                                                  from all students at levels 1, 2 and M. The course-
  will have a lead role, particularly in relation to the production by
                                                                                  level questionnaire need not be administered at level
  faculties of summary results for consideration at departmental
                                                                                  3; rather the focus at this level should be on securing
  and faculty-level.
                                                                                  high feedback response levels for the NSS. However,
• DCQE will centrally co-ordinate the number, timing and                          it is recognised that some departments may still wish
  intended respondents for all other student service user                         to undertake a level 3 questionnaire, for example
  surveys.                                                                        where it has any course with a significant level 3 direct
                                                                                  entry student intake. Furthermore, departments are
                                                                                  strongly encouraged where appropriate to administer
1. Principles                                                                     focused questionnaires for level 3 students,
                                                                                  specifically to gather feedback for example about
      1.1   The primary purposes of student feedback are to:                      students’ placement or dissertation experiences.
            • inform all aspects of the student experience that
              have scope for enhancement;                                   2.4   The unit feedback questionnaire is designed
                                                                                  to measure student satisfaction and students’
            • help improve the quality of learning, teaching and                  perceptions of a course unit. It should be short and
              assessment;                                                         quick to do. Any additional questions should attempt
            • ensure that quality management takes full account                   to elicit further student perceptions of other aspects
              of student views.                                                   of a unit, in line with the underlying ethos of the unit
                                                                                  feedback questionnaire. It is desirable that the number
      1.2   Student feedback questionnaires can serve diverse                     of additional questions is strictly limited.
            purposes and there should be clarity about the
            focus of different questionnaires. The focus of our             2.5   All faculties should make provision for unit and
            standardised feedback questionnaires at both the                      course level feedback results to be processed by
            course and unit-levels will be on student satisfaction                either Optical Mark Reader or through use of an
            and students’ perceptions of the quality of their                     online tool. It is recognised that resources must be
            learning experiences. Whereas user surveys at                         allocated for the administration of questionnaires and


 4     STUDENT FEEDBACK POLICY JULY 2007                                                                     UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
         Faculty Executive Committees need to determine                   Quality Review Reports. Faculty Boards (or sub-
         how support will be provided. Consideration may be               groups thereof) should review summary results of
         given to outsourcing the processing of paper-based               overall satisfaction data for courses and units.
         questionnaires.
                                                                    2.12 A University-wide, standard template will be used for
   2.6   The course questionnaire will consist of core                   the presentation of summary data for the course and
         questions under the following sub-headings:                     unit feedback questionnaires.
         • Academic and tutorial guidance, support and
           supervision                                              2.13 DCQE will centrally co-ordinate the number, timing
                                                                         and intended respondents for all student service user
         • Learning and teaching
                                                                         surveys in any academic year. It will also organise
                                                                         University-wide endeavours to improve the student
         • Learning resources                                            experience where scope for enhancement has been
         • General                                                       identified as a result of student feedback.
         • Other.
                                                                    2.14 Qualitative feedback from students on more specific
         Where appropriate, additional sets of standard                  matters may also be gathered by such means as
         questions should be included, which are targeted at             focus groups or student user panels. Occasional,
         particular categories of students:                              targeted use of such methods normally should
                                                                         draw on the specialist services of the Marketing
         • Combined honours students
                                                                         Department.
         • Distance learning students
         • Students undertaking work practice and/or
           placements.                                            3. Procedures
   2.7   Both the course and unit questionnaires will have          3.1   Where paper-based questionnaires are used the
         an overall satisfaction question. This should mimic              unit questionnaire may be administered either by the
         that used by the NSS: ‘overall I am satisfied with                unit co-ordinator or dispensed to student cohorts
         this course/unit’. For the next two years at least any           in conjunction with the course questionnaire. In the
         course or unit with an average score below 3.75 for              former case, the unit co-ordinator must ensure that
         this question should be identified as ‘exceptional’               the completed questionnaires are subsequently
         and should be subject to further critical scrutiny.              returned for processing by support staff.
         However, it is reasonable to expect that average
         overall satisfaction scores over 4.0 should become         3.2   A summary of the results of the unit questionnaire
         the established norm.                                            should be systematically incorporated into the Unit
                                                                          Evaluation Report (UER) by the unit co-ordinator.
   2.8   The threshold for a satisfactory completion rate by              Unit Assessment Boards (or sub-groups thereof)
         campus-based full-time students for both course and              should annually review all UERs together with a
         unit questionnaires should be at least 50% although              summary of overall satisfaction averages for all
         it should be recognised that a good completion                   units within its purview. Chairs of cognate/subject
         rate would be at least 75%. Units with a completion              groups, in collaboration with the relevant AD(S), will
         rate below 50% normally should not be included in                be responsible for producing a summary report in the
         summary data. Courses and units not achieving the                following semester, identifying any outlying satisfaction
         threshold figure should be noted by the AD(S) and                 averages, which will subsequently require critical
         Head of Department, particularly when this occurs on             scrutiny of the units in question.
         two or more consecutive occasions.
                                                                    3.3. In addition, the AD(S) should oversee the collation
   2.9   It will be unacceptable to rely solely on online                of feedback summaries for all courses in different
         questionnaires if this tool does not produce response           departments. Faculty Board (or sub-group) should
         rates at the 50% threshold. However, it is accepted             consider those courses where there is a marked
         that DL courses and units should not be required                departure from feedback norms (notably those below
         necessarily to meet the 50% threshold.                          the overall satisfaction threshold).

   2.10 Course-level results should be considered by                3.4   The summary feedback data collated at faculty-
        a combination of Staff-Student Consultative                       level by the AD(S) should also include a record of
        Committees, Board of Studies and where appropriate                completion rates for questionnaires.
        Combined Honours Management Board (or any
        equivalent cross-department/faculty forum). The             3.5   Questionnaires should be strictly confidential. As with
        initial focus should be on summary data based on                  established practice in anonymous marking, students
        the overall satisfaction question. Normally, for course           should be asked to give their student identifier
        feedback this should take place in Semester 1 the                 number. This is to enable, at a later date and where
        following academic year and for unit feedback, it                 appropriate, further analysis of responses according
        should take place in the following semester.                      to objective characteristics such as gender, ethnicity
                                                                          and age and whether home or international student at
   2.11 Faculties should produce summary results of overall               departmental, faculty or university level.
        satisfaction data for consideration at departmental
        and faculty-level. Heads of Department should               3.6   A key principle is that no data should be disseminated
        comment on feedback data in Annual Standards and                  that could in any way compromise the anonymity



UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH                                                              STUDENT FEEDBACK POLICY JULY 2007         5
          of individual students. Therefore, where further
          interrogation of data takes place using the above
          categories, feedback data should not be distributed
          whenever less than five students are featured in a
          particular category.

    3.7   In order to safeguard the anonymity of students all
          student feedback should be processed either by
          a ‘third party’ member of support staff or through
          computerised means. So as to reassure students
          about the confidential nature of paper-based
          questionnaires, student volunteers should be asked
          to oversee the completion of questionnaires and
          their dispatch to a departmental or faculty office. To
          facilitate this, one or more students should be asked
          to gather together all completed questionnaires in a
          sealed large envelope and take them directly to an
          appropriate office.

    3.8   Only the final sections of paper-based feedback
          questionnaires, those containing written comments,
          will be returned to academic staff after processing (the
          course leader and unit coordinator as appropriate).
          For this reason, those sections should be put on a
          separate, detachable sheet.




6    STUDENT FEEDBACK POLICY JULY 2007                               UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
    University of Portsmouth
    Directorate
    University House           T:   +44 (0)23 9284 3195
    Winston Churchill Avenue   F:   +44 (0)23 9284 3319
    Portsmouth PO1 2UP         E:   university.secretary@port.ac.uk
    United Kingdom             W:   www.port.ac.uk

MD2301 0907