Innovation in Evaluation - a qualitative approach to HE student feedback

Year: 2001

Author: Spark, Mike, Trimble, Ken

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Most universities today have survey programs in place to obtain feedback from students on a range of issues. From general observation, these programs tend to be centralised and narrowly focussed on student expectations and satisfaction as to course delivery and facilities availability. These evaluation programs are, in the main, quantitatively based. This research project employs focus groups at all levels of an undergraduate Marketing program to gather data on student attitudes, opinions and perceptions. The aim is to provide timely and specific information as to the currency and relevance of course structure, subject content, learning and teaching approach, and the availability of needed facilities. This new qualitative approach enables us to tap into real underlying attitudes rather than the more superficial "top of mind" response commonly associated with the traditional quantitative approach. The approach differs from the traditional approach in that the students can raise and comment on any topic or issue they perceive as important and relevant to them. The outcomes include much valuable data on the gamut of student expectations, not only with regard to more rigidly defined academic matters pursued using the traditional survey method but also with career, social and equity considerations.