How Student Feedback is Used to Improve Your Experience at La Trobe

The time to do your teacher and subject evaluations is near. I didn’t realise until recently just how important student feedback was.

Every year, students are given the opportunity to evaluate their subjects as well as most of their lecturers and tutors. The University uses the information gathered from these evaluations to ensure quality education and a valuable student experience.

Each semester, you will receive an email announcing that student evaluations are open. Hopefully, you’ve done them before. The thing is, it can be really easy to just do one or two and then ignore the rest. Maybe you only evaluate your least favourite subjects? Maybe you only evaluate your favourite tutors?

A common excuse is that it takes too much time to complete all the evaluations. A full-time student does four subjects. I’ve found each survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes if you take your time to be thorough.  That’s only 40 minutes to an hour to evaluate your subjects. Add some teacher evaluations and you’re in for an hour and a half. That’s only a short movie or maybe a couple episodes of your favourite show on Netflix. You don’t even have to do it all at once. You can do one evaluation a day when you check your emails or the LMS. The time spent doing evaluations is a small price each student has to pay to improve the quality of teaching at La Trobe. 

It is a completely confidential process where students can honestly evaluate their subjects and tutors. The result of the student feedback is a report that contains:

1) Information about response rates.
2) Quantitative feedback (numerical ratings)
3) Qualitative feedback (written comments).

Coordinators and tutors will receive the average rating of their subject in addition to the average rating of subjects in their faculty, campus and across all La Trobe subjects. This enables tutors and coordinators to see how their teaching and subjects compare to others. 

In the future, you will most likely see a section in your Subject Learning Guide that addresses feedback from the previous semester. Here, the coordinator will demonstrate what sort of comments, both positive and negative were made about the subject previously and explain the measures that has been taken to improve the subject.

Things to remember while doing your evaluations:

Remember to be objective and constructive
Sometimes if you’ve had a particularly bad experience with a teacher or subject, it can be really easy to respond emotionally to the feedback surveys. Being objective and clear about what went wrong, why it wasn’t a positive experience and how it could be improved will go a long way in the future development of the subject.

Do all the subject evaluations
Don’t just evaluate the subjects you either loved or hated. All your feedback is valuable and helps to improve the La Trobe education experience. The same goes for tutor and lecturer evaluations.

If you have ideas for how to improve the subject, share it!
It can be very easy to be critical about certain subjects. For example, I really struggled with statistics. It would have been easy for me to write that I didn’t like the subject. But, the reality was I disliked it because of how hard I had to work just to pass . In my feedback, I wrote that I struggled with one particular topic as did many other students in the class, and suggested that maybe in future, the lecturer can provide practice questions or the topic could be covered more thoroughly over two lectures. You can do the same! Share your ideas in the feedback and help La Trobe improve their subjects for current and future students. 

More information:

Understanding the process:
http://www.latrobe.edu.au/students/leadership-volunteering/speak-up/subjects-teaching

Understanding how tutors and lecturers use your feedback:
http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ltlt/resource-library/sources-archived/student-feedback-interpreting-results
http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ltlt/teaching/using-student-feedback

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to do your evaluations this semester!

Jo Rattray-Wood is a travel enthusiast and a lover of all things dog-related. She is currently studying a Double Bachelor of Law/Psychological Science while trying to save money for future adventures. You can find her on Instagram @jorattraywood or Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/joannerattraywood. 

Leave a Reply