Giving feedback to the HE institution
Continuous improvement is pivotal for all higher education institutions (HEIs), and feedback from the students is an important part of the development loops. However, students often lack motivation to give formal institutional feedback which is typically gathered at the end of semesters or study units. They may also fear that if they critisize some discriminative, unfair or otherwise sensitive practices in teaching and other institutional activities they might put themselves under a negative spotlight. In a worst case scenario, critizising a faculty member may lead to lower grades.
Thus, the higher education institution should provide opportunities for informal, anonymous or otherwise safe ways for feedback. It also is important to provide opportunities to give feedback to the HEI throughout the learning cycle when the student faces the issue.
One safe way of soliciting for relevant and constructive feedback from students is to organize it as part of a study unit in feedback groups.
The benefits are:
- No individual can be recognized, thus lessening the fear of negative attention.
- Group feedback typically helps forming the feedback into a more constructive wording when no individual student can write down personal grudges and while peers provide more neutral perspectives.
- The relevance and proportions of the issues are discussed among peers, thus enabling a developmental perspective, possibly even a proposal for a solution.
- As part of the learning process, students can use learning time for feedback giving which again increases the amount of given and relevant feedback. It also helps students to perceive the importance of constructive feedback for the process of continuous improvement.
- The feedback can be given formally by following the institutional practices (e.g. feedback questionnaires) or informally (e.g. by visual posters about what looks good and what should be altered).
- The feedback can be processed and discussed together with the students on the spot. This enables a co-creative aspect to the institutional feedback processes.