Response to Student Feedback
HSTY1076 - American History from Lincoln to Clinton (2005)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Stephen Robertson
As in 2004, this was a very successful unit of study. The vast majority of students, 90%, agreed with the proposition "Overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study.” Slightly more students, 91%, agreed that “The teaching in this unit of study helped me to learn effectively."
The changes made in order to address the difficulties last year's students had determing what was expected of them, particularly in the assignments, proved very successful.
I provided a more detailed description of the assignments and discussed in class the differences between what had been expected of them in high school history and what was expected of them at university. The evaluations reveal that these changes helped: 88% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the learning outcomes and expected standards were clear, up from 74% in 2004; and 90% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the outline accurately described the unit, up from 84% in 2004. Numerous students singled out the web site as being particularly helpful to them.
Even more significantly, more students reported receiving useful feedback on their assignments: 76% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the feedback effectively supported their learning, up from 64% in 2004, with the proportion who strongly agreed nearly doubling. Student comments reinforced those numbers:
- "Absolutely fantastic feedback"
- "Feedback was extensive and valuable"
- "There was detailed feedback on my assessments which was always constructive and useful"
- "Tutorial papers contained a lot of feedback and definitely helped with the week 10 essay"
- "Feedback helped improve work and understand issues better"
- "[Feedback] allowed me to understand mistakes I made, which improved essay writing in general over all subjects"
Those comments are testimony to the outstanding work of the tutors for this unit, Roozi Araghi, Ivan Coates and Diana Covell.
Students also found the new essay writing tutorial useful. So did I. Teaching it highlighted exactly what students find difficult and I will continue to refine what is done in this tutorial to try to make it more concrete.
Another innovation this year also drew positive comments. I switched to using an iPod to record the lectures and placed mp3 files of those recordings on the course web site. Students overwhelmingly found this more useful than tapes of the lectures placed in Special Reserve.
The evaluations also indicate that these changes were made without detracting from the already successful elements of the unit. Students again identifed the lectures as the highlight of the course, with the enthusiasm of the lecturer, the clear structure of the lectures, the use of visual and audio resources, and the availability of lecture outlines, all drawing repeated praise. It was also good to see that links between the tutorials and the lectures, which several students found difficult to see in 2004, did not attract comment this year.