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Last week, I was given a fantastic German book on personnel development by the Swiss author Martin Tschumi.
This book inspired me to apply some of its very insightful tactics and create a student survey, to be distributed at the end of a module which I have been teaching for the third semester in a row now.
This is because I found many similarities in developing staff and developing students:
In personnel development, it is a dialogue and a helping attitude which aims to find areas for growth potential in staff. And as a lecturer, I feel that this is my role in university, too. The only way I can improve the quality of my lectures and increase the motivation and development of my students is by asking them for feedback and adjusting my practice accordingly.
The survey which I designed was anonymous, had 2o questions in total and space to provide own comments.
So what did I ask?
For example, I asked the students to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses which are applicable to the course they are taking.
Then the students were asked to evaluate if this particular module had helped to further their strengths and if the weaknesses could be improved.
They were asked to make suggestions on what could have helped them to reach their full potential.
Other questions were designed to determine if the students are more visual learners, audio learners, if they like verbal-abstract theory or kinaesthetic learning (learning-by-doing).
I also asked them which topics or projects they found to be “top” or “flop”.
The results were very interesting: The students seem to be well aware of their own abilities and needs in class, they found most topics interesting and productive. However, they were critical about the unreliable participation of class-mates in group projects but praised our field trip. Many comments and suggestions were constructive and I feel capable of integrating them into the next module.
Overall I recommend to fellow lecturers to conduct such anonymous surveys because the feedback from the students is very valuable. They might be shy to tell us in person what they need, but in an anonymous form they can do that at ease.
Have you ever conducted such surveys and what was your experience? I am eager to hear your comments!