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A Student Feedback Fairytale

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The student feedback forms have, in essence, been a system of feedback that has been hit-and-miss with the students. On the one hand you have a system that tries to incorporate a flimsy notion of student rights whilst on the other hand you have a system that more often than not seems too distant from the student. The recent complaints directed at the feedback system, due to the delays in the publication of results, shows how certain shortcomings have limited the impact of the system at large.

Firstly it must be pointed out that with regard to the publication of results it is the lecturers who have the right of this issue. In a collective agreement made with the lecturers (which is in the process of being renegotiated), they are allowed to give in results by the end of March however truth be told this agreement is of suspect legal impact since no sanctions per se are highlighted for any breaches.

Secondly, and most importantly an emphasis must be made on the fact that the deadline for the feedback system was extended primarily due to a lack of response from the students. The administration, specifically the registrar’s office (who seem to have issued the extended deadline), should take this as a message that the feedback system is either being ‘marketed’ wrongly or that the student is showing a lack of confidence in the system.

The reality, or more accurately, the preference I personally seem to adopt is that it’s a bit of both. To put it bluntly simply placing the feedback system on esims might not be the best way to reach students. To add insult to injury this is coupled with those grotesque looking webmail emails that are sent periodically to students. What if the administration partners up with student organisations like KSU and faculty organisations to encourage its use?

This would be a win-win for all parties concerned since you’re increasing the students’ opportunity to voice their concerns thus making student representation easier whilst also making the system a ‘success story’ for the UoM administration.

Furthermore, the time when the feedback system is issued is probably its biggest downfall. Issuing the feedback forms during the correcting phase of the examinations is most definitely a massive deterrence. Who would want to fill in form that might cause negative reactions from the lecturers? Anonymity you say? The truth is that a huge number of students have doubts of just how anonymous these systems are whilst others wouldn’t want to ‘risk it’. This might just be a false perception on the part of the student but it’s a reality that needs to be addressed through proper ‘marketing’ by the administration.

In the past, several students have suggested that the feedback system should be made mid-semester however would not this still deter those students that are worried of a negative backlash from lecturers? The other alternative is to release the feedback forms after the publication of results. The counter argument to this is that a poor result in exams would influence the feedback given which is a superficial argument a best. Yes, there will be some students motivated by this reason but the amount would be extremely negligible at best especially since there is a fundamental link between what is thought during lectures and what comes out during exams. This preference will undoubtedly encourage more students to partake in the study-unit feedback.

Whatever angle you take or whichever feedback method you prefer the highlight of this week is that the feedback system has severe deficiencies. It seems that you can get the feedback form to student but you cannot get the student to fill it out.

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