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Course feedback in Aalto University

Course feedback is a unique part of the feedback portfolio in Aalto University and it reaches students in all phases of their studies and is collected systematically throuhgout Aalto. Hearing the voice of students is vital for the development of teaching and education as well as for quality assurance and for improving study-related services. Feedback is used on multiple levels in many ways and its utilisation is a special focus area at Aalto.
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Course development is a continual process, as it occurs both during the course and after it. Aalto´s PDCA cycle can be applied even here (PDCA cycle | Aalto University).  After each course, student feedback is automatically collected via an electronic feedback system. Teachers are also warmly encouraged to collect feedback on their teaching & students' learning during the actual course. 

Course feedback overview
Course feedback overview

Besides the teacher´s basic report, also programme directors, department heads, school and university directors receive report summaries. The feedback collected is utilised in development discussions, curricuculum development as well as in other strategic and pedagogical development work. 

Collecting course feedback

End-of-the-course feedback is collected via a system based on an online survey tool called Webropol. The system retrieves course information from Sisu and creates a feedback survey in Webropol. The teacher receives an e-mail from the system three weeks before the end of the course, i.e. the end date in Sisu. Through the emailed link, the teacher can add course-specific questions that help to develop the course.  

At the end of the course, the system emails a link to the survey to the students.

Aalto questions, five items, are asked in all courses. In addition to the Aalto questions, there are also school-specific questions as a default in each feedback survey.

A feedback questionnaire is sent automatically to the students registered in the course. Despite the automated feedback system, the teacher can substantially boost the feedback percentage with small measures. When the survey is closed and a minimum of 5 students have answered, the teacher gets a feedback report via e-mail. In addition, report summaries for the leadership are created twice a year. 

Collecting and giving feedback during the course

Teachers are encouraged to collect feedback from their teaching already during the course. Feedback collected during the course enables small-scale adjustments in the teaching even during the course. There are a lot of ways to collect feedback that can be integrated in teaching: assignments, group discussions, feedback groups, small surveys (e.g. Presemo, Zoom poll, tools in MyCourses). However, it is important to offer anonymous feedback channels, too. 

Developing a course based on feedback

After the course, the teacher analyses the student feedback and reflects on it, planning possible future development measures. Peer discussions regarding the feedback and development have proven to be very benefitial. 

According to Vice President's decision 16.5.2014, (dnro D/242/00.01.06.02/2014) handling the feedback is one of the liabilities of the responsible teacher. The practical implementation varies a lot between schools and programmes: in some there is a common feedback event and in others the internal arrangements of the course are trusted to include this. In practise the teacher can, for example, share some of the feedback and the planned development actions with the students. 

Below you can find some questions to help in the analysis and development: 

  • How successful was the course implementation? 
  • Did the students attain the learning outcomes set and at what level? 
  • How did the teaching and studying methods further the attainment of the learning outcomes? 
  • How did the central contents and the study material support learning? 
  • How did the evaluation methods support learning and the assessment of learning? 
  • How did the students perceive the course workload? 
  • What contributes to inclusion in the course according to the students, and how can it be worked towards even more?  

Making changes to a valid curriculum

Changes not requiring changing the course description can be made at the discretion of the teacher. Such changes include changes to the duration of a lecture series or instructions for a specific assignment. Part of the changes (such as lecture series information and detailed information) are written into the syllabus which has to be published three weeks before the course starts. 

Careful and strategic degree-programme design and long-range planning of resources can avoid having to make changes to the curriculum in the middle of the two-year period. But in some cases, making the changes is justified. For more information, please see cases where changes to a valid curriculum are justified

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The principles of feedback in education and student feedback in Aalto University

In Aalto, feedback is collected from students during different phases of their studies. Hearing the voice of students is vital for the development of teaching and training as well as for quality assurance and for improving study-related services. Feedback is used on multiple levels in many ways and its utilisation is a special area of focus in Aalto. Student guilds and organisations are also interested in and benefit from feedback and surveys.

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Aalto University students doing group work, sitting at a table with their laptops and notebooks / photo by Aalto University, Aino Huovio

Course feedback as a course element 

Course feedback is a unique part of the feedback portfolio at Aalto university and it reaches students in all phases of their studies and is collected systematically throughout Aalto. Hearing the voice of students is vital for the development of teaching and education as well as for quality assurance and for improving study-related services. Feedback is used on multiple levels in many ways and its utilisation is a special focus area at Aalto.

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Course feedback questions

Here you´ll find information about the content of course feedback surveys: Aalto questions common to all courses at Aalto University, the school-specific questions and recommended questions. You´ll also get tips for feedback questions during the course.

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