Teaching & Learning


Harmonising module evaluation: Frequently Asked Questions

As the project to introduce a new system for module evaluation across UCL gets underway, here we answer the most common questions about the project

Due to the pressures posed by the Covid19 pandemic, and after careful deliberation, the Project Board, have chosen to suspend the project indefinitely. The decision was taken because whilst the project was deemed to be highly desirable, harmonising module evaluation is not an urgent requirement for UCL and would place an unnecessary additional strain on departments at an already difficult time. It is hoped that as circumstance change, the project can be reopened in the future.

Who is running the project?

The project is run by the Student Engagement Team in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) and championed by Professor Deborah Gill, Pro-Vice-Provost (Student Experience).  Colleagues in ISD are supporting the project team through gathering technical requirements and procuring a system that meets needs across UCL.

Why are we doing this at UCL?

We know that currently module evaluations can be time consuming for staff to administer and the differing approaches can feel disjointed for students, particularly those studying across departments. We’re aiming to develop a system which will reduce the administration burden and be more consistent from a student’s perspective.  The reports will enable you look at trends as well as understand the context around your NSS or PTES scores.

What data will be analysed centrally at UCL?

We are proposing a small number of ‘core’ institutional questions which we will collate across UCL. We won’t see the results for additional questions centrally. Module leaders will receive full results and we expect that students taking the module will see quantitative results.  

How will the data be used?

The core questions will be targeted at the module level, not individual teaching staff. This will be used to help give us an early warning system for future NSS or PTES survey results and support departments to make improvements, where needed. Departments can use this information to help contextualise NSS or PTES results, particularly if they are unexpected. Through the pilot we will explore how we might best aggregate, share and discuss results at a local level, for example through SSCCs.

When will the surveys be sent?

The Advisory Board will be asked to discuss the timings of module evaluation surveys and make a recommendation for a policy on a consistent survey window, however we understand this may not be possible for all modules so exceptions will be accommodated.  The system will be flexible to allow different timings and accommodate different module shapes and sizes.

Will the information be used for module selection?

We haven’t got any plans to develop a policy on this at the moment, so that remains a local decision. We know that students are interested in results and we’d encourage departments to be as transparent as possible.

Will this be paper or online?

Our initial research suggests that paper evaluations would be too costly and prohibitive to process. Before moving entirely online, guidance and tools will be developed to maintain good response rates.

How will you ensure that students give constructive feedback?

We know that this is an area of concern as negative comments can be demoralising for teaching staff.  As part of the project we will review current best practice and develop an approach which helps students to understand the importance of feedback and how it is used.   By using a system that supports ongoing dialogue with our students we aim to show students that their feedback is valued and that they have a responsibility to take a constructive and considered approach and we’ll actively develop tools and resources to support this.