Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

Teaching Tips & Links for SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING

Issue 77 - Reflecting on Student Evaluations

November 12, 2019

Reflecting on and discussing Student Evaluation Survey results is a constant component of the academic life. Our first article this week looks at different approaches that you can use to apply the evaluations for improving your teaching. The second article explores scenarios that can occur in the annual review discussions that you have with your academic leader.

This week's topics:

  1. How Can I Use Student Feedback to Improve My Teaching?

  2. Talking about Student Evaluation Results: What to Say and How to Say It

While the Student Evaluation Survey provides opportunities to reflect on teaching and delivery, we also reflect on subject design and content. At Charles Sturt, these reflections are recorded in the QUASAR quality assurance system. See Issue 65 for more information.

See below for details of Professional Learning opportunities this week at Charles Sturt University.


1. How Can I Use Student Feedback to Improve My Teaching?

By Ken Alford, Ph.D. and Tyler Griffin, Ph.D.

Source: https://www.magnalearning.com/learn/video/how-can-i-use-student-feedback-to-improve-my-teaching

Reading time: 2 min (21 min for original video).

A new axe is presented as an analogy for student evaluations in the presentation: "everybody thinks they know how to use it."

Starting with the premise that "Most of the perception of student evaluations is very negative", the presenters discuss student evaluations from three perspectives:

  • How administrators use them - a shiny new axe; a tool to be swung in different directions
  • How teachers use them – a hatchet job; a tool that is swung in their direction
  • How students use them – a chopping block – use it back against a teacher, or use to over praise!

They then discuss the various ways to get feedback from students:


  • Formal vs Informal – do you use only the SES results (the hatchet job); collecting informal feedback during the session often leads to better performance on the SES because students recognise that teacher actually cares about what the students are thinking.
  • Single vs Multi-dimensional – written, 360 evaluation, split audience evaluations
  • Scores vs Comments – research indicates high correlation between the two. Hint: choose a day when you are feeling positive to read the comments, and do not focus on the outliers.
  • Anonymous vs Identified – more frank but also more negative if anonymous; students more guarded if identified. Think about how you prepare students to give you feedback.
  • One-time vs Longitudinal – track your progress, shows students your efforts to improve their learning experience.
  • End-of-Course vs Midcourse – do an evaluation after the mid-session assessment task (after the honeymoon is over).
  • Computer vs Pen and Paper – not for the online
  • In-Class vs Out-of-Class – higher percentage of responses if done in class time – could be part of a synchronous online class
  • Spontaneous vs Planned – students become used to the end-of-session evaluations. Take some time to explain how the feedback is used
  • Incentivised vs Non-incentivised – the example given of withholding grades is not a practice at Charles Sturt.

Evaluation of Results

What the results reveal and what they do not reveal. Cites institutional research on 2,073 classes, 160,000 individual students. Low positive correlation on aggregated data between higher GPA scores and higher student evaluation scores. However, for individual teachers, the correlations were highly variable.

By Administrators. Use evaluations as conversation starter, not as a deal-breaker.

By Teachers. Use evaluations to improve teaching, identify trends, inform subject alterations.

By Students. Use evaluation data for class selection, strategic planning.

The Supplementary Materials for this talk include:

  • Sample Mid-­Course Evaluation Questions
  • Student Feedback Considerations Checklist - things to think about as you evaluate your SES results.
  • Recommended Resources - research papers on student evaluations.

The PROFESSIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES section below has details about how to get FREE access to our Magna Publications quality Learning & Teaching resources subscription.


2. Talking about Student Evaluation Results: What to Say and How to Say It

By Maryellen Weimer and Jon Hess

Source: https://www.magnalearning.com/learn/video/talking-about-student-evaluation-results-what-to-say-and-how-to-say-it

Reading time: 1 minute (47 minutes for original video)

This dialogue between presenters examines strategies for constructive conversations about student evaluation results (SES). The main purpose of this presentation is to look at the annual review that academic staff have with their academic leader. The presenters acknowledge that the student evaluation system is often full of all sorts of complaints from many sources and that these review conversations can be emotionally charged. They discuss ways that you might respond in four scenarios.

Dr Weimer has presented variations on the first three scenarios in previous resources, one of which we reported in Issue 66 of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU. See that issue for expanded notes, but it is worth listening to this webinar for the different perspectives provided by Dr Hess.

Scenario 1: When the ratings have declined

Scenario 2: When there are some negative student comments

Scenario 3: When the ratings are high and the program coordinator thinks they know why – accusations of grade inflation or easy subject

Scenario 4: Leaving a good impression

How do you respond to the question: Is there anything else you would like to say?

  • Provide concrete examples of what you have done to improve your teaching and how students learn
  • Evidence of the student experience in your subjects
  • Plans to move forward to improve teaching
  • What support for professional development opportunities are available? E.g. a teaching development conference, or on campus programs
  • Talk about something that you have learned, insight gained in your teaching.


Implementing the CSU Value INSIGHTFUL in your teaching.

In living the value of Insightful we act respectfully and perceptively to seek to understand why people think and behave in the ways that they do. Through an open-minded approach we reveal people's underlying attitudes, beliefs and motivations. An insightful approach means we remove ambiguity, we are each clear and agreed about our goals and actions, and we better position ourselves for success.


Monday Morning Mentor

The highly popular Monday Morning Mentor Fall (USA) series is on again. Charles Sturt University staff who have accessed these webinars have enjoyed the topics and the format of these 20-minute video presentations.

The next topic is titled

What Can Engagement in Games Teach Me About Engagement in My Courses?

It becomes available on November 12 (AEST).

Access details will be published in What's New and on Yammer.

Staff with a Charles Sturt Magna Publications login can access the webinar directly from their Mentor Commons account.

Alternatively, contact

Ellen McIntyre emcintyre@csu.edu.au


Follow Teaching Tuesdays on Twitter.
Our Twitter feed includes links to further hints, tips and resources in the broader field of teaching in higher education.



1....Teaching support resources at Charles Sturt
2....Links to previous bulletins

3....Professional Learning at Charles Sturt
4....Bonus resource - LinkedIn Learning

5....Magna Publications Subscriptions


1. Teaching support resources at Charles Sturt

You have access to a range of quality CSU resources to help you incorporate educational resources and techniques into your teaching. Check out the following:


2. Links to previous bulletins

Charles Sturt University Learning & Teaching Newsletters

Division of Learning and Teaching: DLT News

FoBJBS Newsletter: BJBS-News

FoA&E Newsletter: NeXus

Click below to download a list of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU topics

4. Bonus resource - LinkedIn Learning

All Charles Sturt University students and staff members have access to LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com). This online subscription library provides high-quality instructional videos with the latest business, creative and software skills and an extensive range of teaching tips.

NOTE: All Charles Sturt University Lynda.com accounts were transferred to LinkedIn Learning accounts on July 8.Watch introductory videos for LinkedIn Learning from the links in Issue 64 of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU.


5. Magna Publications Subscriptions

All staff with a Charles Sturt email address have FREE access to our subscription to these high quality learning and teaching resources.

Video seminars: Mentor Commons (20 minutes) and Magna Commons (40-90 minutes) also include the presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources that are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.

Text-based resources: The Teaching Professor (for teaching staff) and Academic Leader (for those in academic and administration leadership roles).

How to subscribe: There is a single Charles Sturt subscription code to access all four of these resources. Staff with a Charles Sturt University login can obtain the code and subscription instructions from this What's New link.

Alternatively, contact:

Ellen McIntyre elmcintyre@csu.edu.au or

Matthew Larnach mlarnach@csu.edu.au


6. Subscribe

To have TeachingTuesdays@CSU delivered direct to your inbox,
click on the orange Follow Teaching Tuesdays @CSU button (below, or at the top of the bulletin)


Teaching Tuesdays@CSU Contacts

Learning Academy, Division of Learning & Teaching, Charles Sturt University

Teaching Tuesdays@CSU bulletins are edited by Ellen McIntyre
Lecturer, Academic Development in the Learning Academy at Charles Sturt University

Kogi Naidoo

Dr Kogi Naidoo, FHERDSA and PFHEA, is Associate Professor and Director of the Learning Academy, Division of Learning and Teaching at Charles Sturt University, playing a strategic role contributing to and enhancing teaching, the curriculum and assessment practice, meeting both staff and student needs.