Response to Student Feedback
HSTY1076 - American History from Lincoln to Clinton (2009)
Unit Coordinator: Ivan Coates | Lecturer: Dr Stephen Robertson
This year the 151 students (of a total of 303) who filled out the evaluation gave this unit its highest ever scores, with the mean for every question up from when I last taught it. 99% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the proposition "Overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study,” for a mean score of 4.67 out of 5. 95% of students agreed or strongly agreed that “The teaching in this unit of study helped me to learn effectively," for a mean score of 4.47.
The most frequently given explanation for those scores was the lecturing, which students described as “enthusiastic,” “dynamic,” “engaging”, “brilliant” – and “very fast.” Fortunately, many students also indicated that they took advantage of the recordings to catch anything they missed in the lectures. And I will continue to try to slow down. A new element also drew comment this year – my shirts, which one student said helped grab her attention. It was particularly pleasing to have one student comment. “My second year and the first time I have felt taught not talked to.” The lectures and organization also helped make the unit accessible to mature age students: one wrote, “I was concerned that I would not fit in but have found that everything was well-explained and straightforward. I have been encouraged to continue.”
Students also praised the web site, which they found easier to use than WebCT. I’ll continue to use my own site when I teach the course.
One of the great successes of this course was that 87% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they received constructive and timely feedback, a mean score of 4.27, up from 3.98 in 2007. In their comments, students praised the constructive and motivating nature of the feedback, and its length and detail. These responses reflect the outstanding work of Ivan Coates, and the tutors – Karol Florek, Conor Hannon, and Anna Lebovic. All also drew numerous positive comments for their work in the tutorials, being praised as knowledgeable and helpful. Ivan also did outstanding work in coordinating the unit, drawing frequent comments about his helpfulness and organization.
Concerns about the assessment expressed for the first time in 2008 were not evident this year: 82% agreed or strongly agreed that it allowed them to demonstrate what they had understood, for a mean score of 4.08 out of 5. The one issue students did raise, and the only thing they wanted changed, was having to wait until Stuvac for the essay to be returned. In the past, the essays have been returned in the last lecture, but that deadline puts a lot of pressure on the tutors – as it is, they only had 4 ½ weeks to complete the marking – and makes it difficult to provide the quality feedback that students appreciated. If the workload of the tutors allows it, I will try to return the essays earlier next time I coordinate the unit.