Student surveys are destroying my confidence

The Guardian is reporting on a new academic whose confidence is being bashed by student surveys. 

It took time for my confidence to grow but I slowly began to have more faith in my teaching. Engaged and responsive students fuelled my enthusiasm and boosted my self-esteem. As I began to understand classroom dynamics, I was able to adapt my lesson plans in response to a particular session or group rather than focusing my energy on making sure I got through every slide and remembered every point. Standing in front of a room of students began to feel normal.

But our mandatory student feedback surveys are crushing that confidence. They report that I seem “inexperienced” and the block that I teach is “uninteresting”. 

Perhaps the issue is not with feedback from students, but with the way feedback is collected and used. In my department, these surveys are distributed in the final 10 minutes of a 50-minute lecture. I don’t think this set-up is conducive to thorough contemplation: they’re already eager to get away and may not be inclined to put in the effort to provide useful feedback.

Rather than encouraging young researchers to improve their practice, negative feedback from students at this very early stage can have a detrimental, demotivating effect. But as university students become consumers, more emphasis is placed on consumer responses and demands. 

More at: Student surveys are destroying my confidence

Do student surveys dent your confidence? Is there a better way to conduct this feedback? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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Categories: Higher Education and Teaching.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove As the article says, how the “results” of surveys are used is the key. Too often used as “stick” with which to beat teacher

  2. Dr Mary Beard has also expressed concern about satisfaction surveys done immediately after a session.  She said the time to ask this question was several years down the line when students have had time to reflect on the whole course and not just tiny bits which are surveyed as the students rush off.  Often such feedback was superficial and concentrated, say, on whether a student was ‘bored’ or, in some cases, what Dr Beard was wearing.

  3. wasateacher

    Something like this might work if it was alongside a friendly manager sitting in and discussing the lecture afterwards. The manager should have a better idea of where an individual lecture is leading, rather than judging just on a snapshot.  Asking for student feedback on its own might encourage the lecturer to be popular rather than informative or thought provoking and challenging.

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