Teaching & Learning


Continuous Module Dialogue: how to gather useful feedback

Dr Fergus Green, Lecturer in Political Theory & Public Policy, shares ways to gather useful feedback on your teaching and move away from relying on module evaluations.

6 June 2023

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Student Evaluation Questionnaires have been consigned to the dustbin of history because they are not a good measure of teaching quality and have been shown to be discriminatory. So how can teachers get feedback on their teaching? And how can they document this feedback to evidence the quality of their teaching – for use in HEA fellowship or promotion applications, for instance? 


Invite someone to observe you

 One really good way of gathering evidence and feedback for your teaching is to get someone to observe any aspect of it. We are used to having a colleague observe a lecture or seminar, but you can also ask colleagues to observe any other aspect of your work including assessment, feedback, supervision, even office hours. Comments from second markers and external examiners are also useful in the same way. And the UCL Arena Centre can also provide Student Quality Reviewers who are trained to provide constructive, useful feedback. Make sure you keep a record of how you developed your practice in response to feedback as well as any compliments – it is all good evidence of your development as an educator. 

Focus on how your teaching helps students

Everyone at UCL now has some experience of using Continuous Module Dialogue (CMD) to gather feedback from students. The point of this is usually to make quick, flexible adaptations, but it can also be a useful source of evidence for teaching quality, especially if you show how you responded to it. Comments from students are most likely to be useful if they explain how your teaching helped them learn, so that we can be confident of avoiding the biases associated with module evaluations. 

Keep a record of your practice 

Other ways of documenting the quality of your teaching include creating a Portfolio of your teaching work, including any innovative aspects of your teaching. The quality of students’ work in your module can also provide indicative evidence of teaching. 
We’re hoping that UCL can lead the way in moving away from the problems associated with module evaluations, but this can only happen if we stop relying on them ourselves as evidence and think more widely about how we evaluate our own and others’ teaching. 

Top tip: Use the CMD process to gain useful feedback, tell your students how you’ve responded to their feedback, and save the feedback in PDF form. Make sure you keep good records of all the places you’ve received feedback, how you’ve responded to it and what changed for the better as a result.

Further reading

Troy Heffernan (2022) Sexism, racism, prejudice, and bias: a literature review and synthesis of research surrounding student evaluations of courses and teaching, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47:1, 144-154, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2021.1888075

Download the video transcript

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