July 2nd, 2018

Interpreting Student Comments on Course Evaluations

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interpreting student comments on course evaluations

When it comes to feedback about course quality, students and teachers aren’t necessarily using the same yardstick.  “How hard is it to get a good grade?” is a typical student concern and priority affecting course feedback.  If teachers, administrators, and students hold different expectations about the course and about learning in general, the academic process falls short of its potential. Viewing student feedback through alternative student lenses helps teachers better understand end-of-course feedback.  Careful consideration of student feedback helps teachers and academic leaders sensitively manage these divergent views, which leads to increased student satisfaction.  More importantly, viewing course feedback through a student lens should improve learning and retention as it fosters changes that align teachers’ and students’ expectations and beliefs about learning.

Below are three examples of common student comments followed by a suggestion of how we could better interpret what students are telling us. Discussion of the feedback and possible interpretations can lead to policy and instructional changes that facilitate closer alignment of expectations regarding rigor, assessment, and learning.

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