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.
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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