How do students feel about their teachers and feedback? With Ella Longstaff

03

FEB, 2020

Students as Partners
Teaching & Learning

Feedback
Wellbeing

I’m Ella, a third-year communications student currently working as a Communications Support Officer and Student Partner in Deakin Learning Futures.

In a survey of students on campus, several undergraduates shared their experiences with teaching staff. Among some challenging experiences with tutors, students generally felt that most of their teachers genuinely cared about their progression and wellbeing. One stated the “majority of teachers…really care”, especially when they get to know students “on a personal level”. These students not only appreciated this personal approach, but also expressed a desire to connect with their teachers as they felt supported and valued, and this pushed them to do better.

The complexity of teacher-student relationships brings into question how students also respond to feedback. It’s important for students to obtain good feedback so they can improve and to adapt their work. This is the foundation of their learning and is a key reason to why students even come to university.

Many students had received relevant feedback and felt that their teachers really cared about their learning and wellbeing. On the other hand, some students indicated they received little to no feedback, and that teachers weren’t interested in their progression at university. Despite being able to communicate with teachers about classwork, these students still felt they were not receiving enough guidance and support. This type of detailed feedback was important and useful for them to enhance their skills for future assessments — as you can determine what you did well and what you can improve with more clarity.

Another common perspective was that If you invest in the subject and do the work, the majority of teachers will invest back in you and give you support and guidance. Again, some students disagreed, suggesting that multiple tutors hadn’t given enough feedback and that “it should be a requirement for tutors to give proper feedback to each assessment and to each student.” I personally understand this feeling — there’s no point in doing an assignment without receiving feedback, as the same mistakes are likely to be repeated.

The way students received feedback also was often questioned as the written word also lead to misinterpretations. One student studying Health Science mentioned that it can be frustrating if feedback is made “too general” and if tutors “don’t give constructive feedback”. Lecturers have often been under scrutiny for only giving negative feedback and not focussing on the elements of a task where students have performed well.

Beyond any of the noted issues that the student body faces in engaging with teachers and receiving feedback, one student summarised the general feeling of teaching at Deakin: “the majority of teachers are doing a good job and I’m very appreciative of that”.

It’s important to consider these varying student perspectives for our staff to strive to understand the student body better. And, having teachers who show a genuine interest in their student’s studies and wellbeing can go a long way in creating a positive impact on their social and learning experience at Deakin.

*To find out more about how you could partner with students in projects please contact learningfutures@deakin.edu.au

Resources

Bovill, C. (2019). Student–staff partnerships in learning and teaching: an overview of current practice and discourse. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2019.1660628

Deakin University. (2019). Deakin Students as Partners: A guide to enhancing the student voice across Deakin. Retrieved from here

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