History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2901 - Reading the Past (2005)
Unit Coordinator: Associate Professor Glenda Sluga
Tutor: Dr. Jill Levenberg; Assistant tutor: Sarah Morgan.
80% of students enrolled in the course responded to the evaluation survey. Of that 80%, 85% claimed to be satisfied with the quality of the unit of study. 5% were unsatisfied, the remaining 10% were somewhere in the middle. In order to help us interpret these results, Jill Levenberg compiled this list of comments and added her own analysis. I would only add that I regard Jill’s contribution as the main tutor, as critical to the obvious success of this unit of study.
Students were unusually responsive, commenting extensively on the quality of both the teaching and the unit of study overall. Their comments were overwhelmingly positive, and often exceptionally so:
- 'This is the kind of course I dreamed about before coming to university. I cannot express how much I enjoyed it and how useful and important I have found it'.
‘It was an amazing course – structured in a way (through readings/lectures) which really enlightened my knowledge of History. I love it, keep up the good work staff of HSTY2901’.
- '[I] was never disappointed leaving lectures or tutes. I felt [sic] like this course really expanded my mind'.
- 'I loved the environment the lectures and tutes created, of a "little community of historians"'.
- ‘This is the best unit I have done with the History faculty. Fun and very challenging. However, as a result of the workload, my other subjects have suffered’.
A number of students commented that the workload was too high for a 4 credit point subject:
- ‘While the material covered is useful, the workload is too high for 4 credit points. I don’t see how the amount covered can be reduced and still be an effective topic [sic], so the only solution is to make the subject worth 8 credit points’.
- ‘In terms of credit point value, the unit’s workload was pretty high, perhaps more work required than for a general 8 credit point subject’.
- ‘I found I was doing more preparation for this 4 credit point unit than even some of my other 8 credit point subjects and for this reason will not choose to continue with the follow-up unit in Semester 2’.
Students commented favourably on the structure of the unit. The guest lectures were well received:
- ‘I found the lectures valuable and enjoyed hearing historical accounts directly from the mouth of the historian who wrote them’.
- ‘I found the guest lecturers really interesting and valuable to my understanding of different aspects of history’.
- ‘I really liked hearing from different lecturers – good to hear their points of view and what’s going on at USYD. Felt like I was really part of something and engaging in historical debates. History wasn’t just something in the past’.
- ‘Felt like I learnt a lot – the lectures were excellent, and tutes helped clarify things’.
- ‘Both lectures and tutorials were informative, interesting and engaging. Also, the tutor was responsive and provided me with an opportunity to develop my ideas’.
- ‘Loved the lectures – particularly with Glenda and the tutes helped to clarify’.
The assessment tasks drew a mixed response, but were generally positively received:
- ‘The [reflective] diary format was a flexible and creative way to flesh out and explore the themes and issues’.
- ‘Reflective diary is a good form of assessment. Journal review was a bit of bizarre exercise but interesting’.
- ‘The Journal Review task was exceptional. Very challenging but rewarding. Reflective diary was difficult but developed critical skills I didn’t know I had’.
- ‘In particular the reflective journal allowed for us to consolidate our learning of the course content’.
- ‘This was one of the few methods of assessment I have come across which actually required an engagement with the material presented every week. In other subjects (such as the ANHS equivalent) a lot of the material is never assessed’.
‘The assessments allowed us to be imaginative about what we understood’.
- ‘More than any other unit, I felt I had the chance to demonstrate what I’ve learnt though the final assessment’.
- ‘The journal review was terrific for burying me shoulder deep in research material! The focus on writing has also aided me immensely (as may not be apparent in this evaluation form!)’.
- ‘The reflective diary is a bad idea. Specialisation is the way!’.
- ‘Assignments forced to use different skills than other subject which was very helpful’.
Students commented extremely favourably on the feedback they received:
- ‘Very helpful feedback means that I won’t make the same errors again... Hopefully’.
- ‘Was copious amounts of helpful feedback’.
- ‘Lots of feedback from markers was good – but the emphasis on expression and writing style threw me a bit’.
- ‘Feedback was exceptional’.
- ‘Good feedback but a bit harsh almost to the point of being critical’.
Students commented extremely favourably on the teaching in this unit, emphasizing how valuable the tutorials were to their learning experience:
- ‘Tutorials were amazing’.
- ‘The passion of academics was great’.
- ‘Staff were engaged and committed’.
- ‘Glenda Sluga and my tutor Jill were incredibly inspiring. Glenda is a wonderful lecturer. Jill is incredibly helpful and always prepared to make time’.
- ‘Tutes were great, everyone had an opinion...’
- ‘Glenda was really highly motivated and sort of filled you with enthusiasm and learning energy’.
- ‘Sarah Morgan was organised, committed to her class, responsive to the individual needs of students, approachable, friendly, professional and open minded. Thanks for a great job!’.
- ‘Our tutorial group was great and allowed active discussions each week... Jill is an excellent tutor’.
- ‘Jill was an excellent tutor, her comments were always encouraging and constructive. This made the course more satisfying and useful’.
- ‘It was a very enjoyable unit that was well taught and thus easy to follow’.
- ‘Tutor and other students were really nice and created an atmosphere where everyone was able to freely express their views... I found the staff were very helpful and always willing to help’.
- ‘Teachers were enthusiastic and often available for us, which made it a lot easier’
- ‘I did get the impression that Jill (my tutor) really cared about how were going and how our assessments were going’.
- ‘This is the first overwhelmingly positive tutorial experience I had had at uni’.
The broad consensus of opinion appears to have been that although the unit was challenging, the overall experience was a rewarding one:
- ‘Although I have found the theory in this subject extremely confusing (because I have never been exposed to it before) I have found it a very rewarding course, which I have been able to positively apply to many of my other courses. Historical theory is a part of everyday life, so an understanding of it is necessary’.
- ‘I hated this subject at the beginning but as it went on I grew to enjoy the different debates going on (getting a good mark on my review helped)’.
- To start with I seriously considered changing this subject but I’ve changed my mind and really ended up enjoying the course’.
- Definitely a worthwhile course that has challenged me and [will] hopefully benefit me in my future university career’.
- I really did enjoy this course even tho [sic] I’m not that sure how much I ended up understanding... But I feel that even the little bit I did understand was useful’.
Was very good, but quite challenging and not easy’.
- This unit of study challenged all [the] assumptions I had about history and its study, which, at times, was frustrating and confusing, but ultimately pushed me to be more academically accountable in my historical inquiry. Thanks!’.
- Fantastic course. I loved it. Can’t wait for next semester to see what happens next’.