History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2902 - Reading the Past (2005)
Unit Coordinator: Associate Professor Glenda Sluga
Tutor: Dr. Jill Levenberg
87 students responded to the unit of study of evaluation – that is approx. 80% of the total enrolments.
Students were asked in their evaluations to comment on what they would like to see maintained in a new unit that collapsed the two semesters – in their responses they seem to regret the looming changes. Others debated the relative value of the first and second semesters – their responses took in workload, and different foci. Some preferred the intensity of first semester, the others the practical orientation of second semester. Some thought the workload a bit heavy, others emphasised how much they liked being extended. Opinion varied on whether first or second semester was more valuable, although there was a consensus that reducing to one semester a lot would be lost. Some preferrred second semester because its focus was more practical, semester one more theoretical; and felt workload too heavy for 4 cp.
Jill carried the burden of the tutoring and was singled out again and again for her skills and commitment. In general the commitment of the staff was the subject of their commentaries:
- ‘The First uni course that was self-referentially serious about pedagogy, it was very validating.’
- ‘I’d like to do it again!’
- ‘It is a credit to the university to have such motivated and inspiring staff’
‘This was without doubt the best course I have studied so far. The staff were excellent and always available and empathetic. The work was demanding but fruitful and I improved in all areas of academic work. ‘
- ‘I feel like a historian now’
- ‘thanks for all the laughs and the learning! I was a great course!
- ‘I have never experienced more supportive involved teachers’
- ‘this course is an essential prelude to higher-level history study.’
- ‘The staff in this course were EXCELLENT. Approachable, responsibe, friendly, welcoming, knowledgable, and helfpul! (and funny We loved this course).
- ‘It has been the most rewarding year ever! I’ve discovered so much!
- ‘The course was interesting informative useful and something I would recommend to all history students’
- ‘It helped me to learn effectively’
- ‘The 2902 was supportive, knowledgeable, and just amazing’
- ‘Lectures were great, tutes actually featured speaking! Mentoring was also an added surprise’.
- ‘Glenda is an absolute classic. I wish we had more glenda lectures, she’s clearly very knowledgable but also always makes me laugh.
- ‘Although I am not doing a history major, the skills I learnt in this subject have helped elsewhere’.
- ‘Inquiry, research, creativity, and autonomy were encouraged more in this subject than any other. The diary was a great opportunity to freely explore the issues that interested us.
- ‘The Skills and knowledge I have acquired will be very beneficial for my further study’
- ‘There was such a difference in the level of commitment compared to tother untis of study! The discussion was stimulating’.
- ‘Jill and Glenda clearly outlined learning outcomes at the beginning of semester..
Glenda and Jill were more than responsive to emails and questions, as well as organising discussion boards that were of good use for learning’
- ‘Very relevant if I decide to do hours, but also develops generic skills that are useful in other history courses.’
- ‘Everything was made clear in the start of the course allowing me to strive to achieve the best outcome’
- ‘The teaching in this unit of study was very good. It was motivatory and interesting.
- ‘I have just completed an arts degree and have never been in a course that was so intune with students’ needs.’
- ‘The teachers were dedicated and that in turn inspired us to be dedicated. Thanks so much.’
- ‘Teaching was incredible’
Some appreciated the use of guest lecturers, others thought their contribution was uneven.
- ‘go 2902, thanks jill and glenda you rock, and its awesome the way the lectures are structured with guest lecturers as experts from the fields.’
- ‘I think the variety of lectures was a great aspect of the course and provided us with a wide range of perspectives’.
- ‘Jill and Glenda are the best tutors and lecturers I’ve had so far – and every guest lecturer was great’
Almost all the novel assessment methods, particularly the reflective diary, although a few felt frustrated by the word limit imposed on their entries, and would have preferred the opportunity to write a full essay on one specific topic instead.
- Diaries, ‘a good method of assessment’; ‘the freedom with the reflective diary was great’
- ‘Because they were a different type of assignment, it was great to get some different feedback’
- ‘I thought the book review was an excellent introduction to that medium, and the reflective diary allowed us to demonstrate how we had thought about the core’s content.
- ‘Especially appreciated focus on writing skill’
- ‘Feedback on assessments was good’
The overwhelming majority stated that the course requirements were clear and staff helpful and encouraged a variety of views, two students were less satisfied. One student missed the traditional essay assessment and felt their marks had been dragged down by the course, although the load was fair. ‘...overall disappointing.. instruction unclear, marking too hard, undermined confidence, staff had an agenda.’ Another (Arts/Law) said it had turned them off doing honours, because they had not learnt anything in the unit.
Mentoring was widely appreciated – although one student wanted more information on honours at the outset not at the end – a valid point.
- ‘Jill and Glenda’s mentoring sessions changed my life, and their assessment feedback enlightening, fair erudite and worthwhile’.
- ‘I think mentoring was an integral part of the course and helped give the rest of my degree some direction.’
Overall the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and for most students their evaluation of 2902 was meshed with their appreciation of 2901:
- ‘This and 2901 were the best courses running this year in the history department. It stimulated my mind, challenged my ideas and isn’t that what’s university is about’
- ‘I’ve found HSTY2901 and 2901 to be the most valuable course so far in my degree – the staff and students were so committed to learning and teaching and the core content was insightful in terms of historical scholarship.’
- ‘The passion was incredible, full of encouragement. There aren’t really any improvements I can think of.’
- ‘Both 2901 and 2902 have been a blast... My most exciting university experience so far. The scholarship and fellowship is absolutely amazing, and I felt the unit taught me so much about myself not just as an academic but as a person and active member of society... Congratulations to all who made this such a wonderful experience.’
- ‘Possibly the most valuable unit I have ever taken at university.’
- ‘A fantastic unit’