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How students helped me to review my teaching: Yuemei Ji

Through UCL Arena's Peer Dialogue Option C, staff can request students to review their teaching.

3 December 2018

Two students are paired with a member of staff to build a reflective dialogue about a staff member’s teaching practice and the learning experience of students on the course, under UCL Arena's Peer Dialogue. 

Dr Yuemei Ji, a lecturer at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), explains how she worked with two students to review her teaching. 

What did you personally gain from taking part?

I learned a lot from the experience and have made some improvements to the course as a result. For example:

1. We worked together to design a termly online test system on Moodle. We did this by:

  • agreeing the amount, structure, format and organisation of the test;
  • identifying ways in which the test could be improved for students 

We achieved a high satisfaction response rate, above 90%. This is a great result compared to when we have paper-based test before.

2. I received useful and constructive feedback on my teaching practice from the two students after they attended my teaching sessions. 

3. I carried out a focus group to gain further insight.

How did the student reviewers help you develop your teaching? 

The two students attended two teaching sessions (one lecture and one demonstration class) and provided me with feedback on my teaching.

We agreed a number of outcomes that I intend to try out in my future teaching.

How did the group work together to build up a dialogue around teaching?

I had an initial meeting with the student reviewers to explain the type of advice I was seeking.

We made a work plan together with specific targets, responsibilities and a schedule for the term.

I also had individual conversations about the design of the course’s online test and worked with the students to improve it: 

  • one student was responsible for looking after the content, format and structure of the test;
  • the other student was responsible for helping me understand students’ experience during the test.

We also ran a focus group near the end of the term and had a final meeting to discuss important insights and lessons to learn.

What benefits did you gain from discussing your teaching with a student rather than a peer?

It was very useful to speak to the students about my teaching and get an impartial view on my practice and I received great feedback.

I have created a plan to respond to the feedback, which I will now put into practice.

Were there any challenges and how did you overcome these?

Some of the views I received from the students were contradictory.

It is likely that individual students have very different expectations. So these are the issues I would like to investigate further, to help me to manage students’ expectations.

Would you recommend this scheme to other staff?

Yes, I would recommend this to staff who would like a new impartial view of their teaching. 

Top tips for working with students to review your teaching

  1. Think about what aspects of the course you would most benefit from getting a students’ perspective on
  2. Schedule in time for your meetings with the students as early as possible
  3. Consider how you can build a trusting relationship with the students so that you can learn effectively from them.