It is usual for students to be asked to evaluate their experience by completing a questionnaire at the end of each module. Questions may solicit students’ judgements on the clarity of the unit description, the style of teaching, the quality of handouts and the level of interest that they maintained throughout the unit. The collation of such evaluations may provide award leaders and university administrators with an overall sense of whether students tend to be happy or unhappy with the teaching on a module. However, they provide limited information for a lecturer seeking to use students’ evaluations as a means of improving teaching and learning. It is more useful to spend part of one seminar discussing one of the evaluation criteria with students. In general, higher-quality information will be gathered through dialogue with students.
This dialogue can be a routine part of weekly seminars, particularly when the seminar leader is working with small groups of students as they are engaged on a seminar task. Students may be asked whether they find the exercise helpful to their learning needs, whether they have any suggestions about how the exercises could be changed to provide greater benefit, and whether they feel that the accumulation of exercises has helped them to gain further understanding of the material and its application. Alternatively, evaluation of individual sessions can be gathered from brief questions at the end of a seminar (e.g. ‘Was this a useful exercise?’, ‘Did this exercise help you to enhance your understanding of the subject matter?’, ‘What changes would make this exercise more useful in the future?’).