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LSE good practice highlighted in report on effective course evaluation

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has been singled out for its best practice in a new research report into the issues facing HE institutions in gaining and implementing student feedback on courses. 

LSE is highlighted in the report, Effective Course Evaluation - The Future for Quality and Standards in Higher Education which was published on 1 September.The report was commissioned by Electric Paper, which works with over 600 universities in the UK and worldwide (including LSE) to help them evaluate their courses via its automated paper and online survey management system EvaSys. 

Interviews with 10 academics and student representative groups found, generally, that:

   Many universities seeking feedback on courses and lecturers via surveys struggle to achieve a meaningful response from students.

  Student representatives have indicated that students are not effectively engaged in the feedback process and, for some, providing feedback can even be intimidating.

  Universities need to work harder at feeding back to students the actions they will
be taking as a result of input provided for course and lecturer evaluation surveys.

  End-of-module evaluation is a particular stumbling block in the provision of feedback to students - and feedback can be slow - but moving to mid-module evaluation can help to improve the process.

  Ideally students want the opportunity to express their views on course improvements at a time that their feedback benefits them directly.

  Universities need to embrace new technologies to improve turnaround time - but effective feedback can be gained via a combination of paper and online surveys.

  Universities should establish a more consistent (centralised) approach to survey administration - including a standard set of survey questions - to enable effective benchmarking at course and institutional level.

  In-class student involvement in survey administration can increase commitment as they are stakeholders in the process.

Effective Course EvaluationThe report illustrates how LSE identified a requirement for a system which would allow it to quickly and efficiently survey its 9,000 students and gain feedback on its courses and teaching.LSE turned to Electric Paper's EvaSys survey management system, which allows the flexibility to evaluate modules using both online and paper-based surveys automatically and without the need for manual data entry. "There were two main goals when introducing EvaSys at the School," explained Mike Page, Head of ARD Systems and Business Processes at LSE. "We wanted to improve the timeliness and accuracy of survey results, and to encourage higher response rates." 

Between 2009 and 2010 more than 45,000 questionnaires were completed, surveying over 400 graduate teaching assistants, 600 courses, and 700 permanent teachers. Once the completed surveys were received Electric Paper scanned up to 3,000 a day, providing an instant, individual, daily report for each course/teacher combination. Whereas previously some staff had to wait weeks, turnaround times improved dramatically with results returned quickly and in an easy-to-read format.  

"The swift turnaround of clear and accurate results was a key requirement for the new system and EvaSys more than met expectations," Mr Page said. "EvaSys was selected after an extensive tendering exercise because it offered the most flexible yet dedicated system for our needs - it's a clear winner in our eyes." 

More information about Electric Paper Ltd

1 September 2011