Obtaining course feedback from students is part of good course design
However a common mistake is trying to collect it all after the student completes the course.
Typically these ‘end of course’ surveys tend to be lengthy, rely on students recalling events from hours, days or even weeks ago, and use poorly designed questions to capture meaningful feedback from which to improve the course.
A smarter way to approach course feedback is to organise it in such a way that students have a strong personal connection to making the course better, and who willingly give the feedback needed for direct improvement of the course – as they go.
In this article we will focus on ‘what‘ feedback is meaningful to collect in order to improve course outcomes and the student experience.
eLearning course structure
Creating a road map for the course will allow materials to be grouped into modules with specific learning objectives. This gives the course a logical structure for the student to follow to meet the overall aims of the course. Meaningful course feedback seeks to find specific improvement in the following areas:
- Did the student easily understand the course road map and how to navigate it?
- Are the learning objectives clearly identified at the beginning each module?
- Are all the modules consistently organised throughout the course?
- What one improvement would you suggest we make to the course structure?
eLearning course content
Obviously your content must be relevant to the course aims and objectives. It must also be up-to-date and engaging using scenarios, examples and stories your students can relate to. Meaningful course feedback seeks to find specific improvement in the following areas:
- Were there any learning objectives or topics that your students expected, but your eLearning course did not cover?
- Overall was the course aesthetically appealing?Can the content be improved going forward?
- Were the quiz or assignment instructions clear? Was there enough variety with question formats?
- How easy was it for students to access the course? Did they have any usability issues or technical difficulties interacting with the course content?
eLearning course support
eLearning courses can operate in an automated way without any individual interaction, however most professional eLearning takes a blended learning approach to offer personalised support and guidance. The amount, and type, of course support will be tailored to each course and its learning objectives, but most courses will include additional online resources to help students achieve their learning outcomes. Meaningful course feedback seeks to find specific improvement in the following areas:
- Could the student find the online information and resources they needed quickly and easily? Did they use them?
- Do they have any suggestions about additional eLearning resources?
- Could students contact someone directly if they needed help? If so did they receive a prompt and useful response?
- In a social learning environment, did the student have the opportunity to interact with other students or mentors via forums or group discussions? How useful was it to interact online with others as part of their learning experience.
Meeting students learning objectives
Whilst the goal of the course is to meet the student’s personal learning objectives, the journey along the way is just as important to satisfy their other expectations. Again, with professional eLearning courses many students will be juggling other work and family commitments, and so convenience as well as quality are key measures. Meaningful course feedback seeks to find specific improvement in the following areas:
- Ask the student to identify the most important two or three key concepts learnt, and measure how confident they now feel about their knowledge on them since beginning the course.
- Were the length and number of modules or assignments reasonable? Did they have to spend too long in front of the computer at any one time?
- How much extra time did they spend on activities related to the eLearning course, by participating, for instance, in online discussions? Was it beneficial?
- What advice would you give to another student who is considering taking this course?
Ultimately, the perception of your eLearning course’s quality is reflected in your student’s expectations and experience. So taking the time to plan what feedback is meaningful, how it should be collected, and when, is crucial to your course outcomes and your student’s learning experience.