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Getting feedback from students

Warwick takes part in the National Student Survey, the Postgraduate Taught and Research Student Surveys and the International Student Barometer. Where we feel we need to know more about students' views on particular issues we commission bespoke surveys or focus groups.

Student representatives sit on all University committees that deal with teaching quality: faculty boards and their sub-committees, Academic Quality and Standards Committee and its sub-committees and working groups, and the Senate. So students have a direct route into and a strong voice on the key TQ committees.

Many recent education innovation projects have involved students as key partners and crucial participants.

All students are represented on Student-Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs), which have been an integral part of the University since the early 1970s. (They were introduced in response to student protests and sit-ins which demanded, amongst other things, greater democracy and more involvement for students in decision-making.) Some departments have one SSLC covering all their courses, others have one for undergraduate courses and one for postgraduate courses, others have more. It depends on the nature, number and complexity of courses. SSLCs are a vital forum for discussing and resolving a wide range of issues. Their members are elected by the students, and the majority of SSLC chairs and secretaries are students.

Departments collect feedback from their students on modules and courses in a variety of ways, including informal discussion, module review meetings, written and on-line questionnaires, focus groups, discussion boards and so on.

There are no detailed rules on how departments do this, and what is appropriate will vary depending on the context of the module and course. Some departments, conscious of the risk of "questionnaire fatigue", are moving away from collecting questionnaires on every module every year. Where modules and courses are relatively stable and students are broadly satisfied, it may well be appropriate to use a questionnaire for a third of your modules every year, on a rolling basis, so that every module is reviewed every three years. New or restructured modules should perhaps be reviewed in their first year.

Some departments seek "quick and dirty" informal feedback relatively early on in a module, so the lecturer has time to remedy any specific issues while students are still on the module. This could be using personal response systems (PRS), or a simple questionnaire passed along the rows in lectures and analysed by the SSLC, for example a sample (Word Document)tally-chart questionnaire from the Chemistry department.