Teaching & Learning


4 ways to tell students you’re listening

11 December 2018

Top tips from Student Academic Representatives and from Student Choice Award nominations

dialogue with students

1. Don’t be defensive, have a conversation

‘One of the things I continually hear from other students is that they do not feel heard due to the response a particular member of staff of ours has toward disagreeing sentiments. He will often get defensive about his viewpoints when someone disagrees with them and makes an argument. Rather than listening to a student's thoughts and presenting a counterargument, he will regularly say something like, ‘That's off-topic,’ not engage in discourse with the student to explore this argument.’

‘Another professor we have is a great example of good listening practices. He encourages people to voice their disagreements with him because he understands that opposing sentiments serve to enrich one's argument. In turn, we have many very fruitful and engaging discussions, and most students feel more comfortable approaching him for advice.’

2. Work with your Student Academic Reps to get student input into specific decisions

‘My experience of working with the staff as an Academic Rep has been great so far. During the SSCC meeting, they really took time to listen to us and tried to solve the issues we addressed (e.g. not enough books for certain modules or unclear office hours). Moreover, they seem to value student feedback a lot. At the moment they are discussing whether the module evaluation should be done online, so they asked us for the opinion of students.’

3. Acknowledge and respond quickly to student feedback

‘[Name] has been a great example this term, responding quickly and productively to feedback, problems raised and requests from students within and outside of SSCCs. This has included changing the registration process for seminars following a student vote, and responding to the request for more interdisciplinarity by investigating setting up a panel discussion with researchers doing interdisciplinary work (hopefully due to happen next term).’

4. Make sure students know how feedback has been acted on for future years

‘[Name] has gone out of their way to listen to me individually and my cohort as a group. They put in a lot of extra time sorting out issues, and I know that feedback I have given over my two years as a UCL Masters student have already been implemented for the year following me.’