History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2691 - Writing History (2009)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Clare Courbould
Tutors: Alecia Simmonds and Agnieszka Sobocinska
63 of the 162 enrolled students responded to this year’s survey. The results are outstanding. 90% of students agreed that “overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study,” 7% were neutral and 3% disagreed, for a mean of 4.33. For a difficult unit of study with a heavy reading load and assessment schedule, these are fine statistics. The generally positive stats were reflected in the exuberant comments on many of the surveys. Clearly this unit has stimulated and inspired many students, which is a testament especially to the high quality of the teaching by Agnieszka and Alecia.
Importantly, given the aims of this unit of study, 95% agreed that it “encouraged/stimulated my thinking and helped to develop an enhanced diversity of ideas, attitudes and approaches to and beyond the subject matter.” Only one person disagreed (and none strongly disagreed) that feedback was timely and constructive, which reflects the carefully designed sequential assessment tasks of the unit.
The overall impression on reading students’ comments on the surveys is that they relished the challenges presented both conceptually and in the assessments of this unit. Most students who commented on the guest lectures thought they were “fantastic” and “amazing” (x3).
Students did have some general suggestions for improvement and a couple of more specific criticisms:
- There is a lot covered in this course. Some students suggested we move from two hours of face-to-face teaching to three hours per week, something that future coordinators of the unit will consider. Having two lectures per week rather than one would address another concern raised by five students, who felt the content was disjointed and could be better melded together with more lectures from the coordinator. Others suggested cutting the assessments from three tasks to two, which might be necessary if we increase the number of hours of lectures.
- Tutorial sizes mean limited opportunity for discussion, especially if there are two or three presentations. We will take this into account next time the unit is run.
Diary: most students who commented on the diary (in which students reflect on all tutorial topics in the semester) regarded it as useful and a great means of forcing students to do the readings and consider them carefully. That doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoyed writing it! A few students suggested the 3,000 word diary ought to be worth more than the journal review and reflective essay, given the amount of time devoted to it, another thing for future coordinators to consider.
Journal review: this was the most criticised aspect of the unit, not because of the task itself but because it the parameters were not sufficiently explained in the outline, lectures and tutorials. We will rectify this problem in future. Some students suggested we provide an example or two of journal reviews (as we did for diary entries), which is a good idea.