Students eager to give end-of-semester feedback

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An empty AdHum pit sits desolate from a bird’s eye view. The Carillon the Move series logo sits in the left corner.
I wonder what things are living in that carpet. Gillian Massie, manipulated by Lee Lim 

More participation in feedback, but students want to see improvements in return

As the winter semester draws to a close, students at universities across Canada are taking part in an important tradition: end-of-semester reviews. The University of Regina is no exception. This week’s Carillon on the Move was originally pitched by our news editor as an opportunity for U of R students to voice their opinions on the customary end-of-semester reviews about the courses they have taken and the instructors who have taught them. But just how helpful are these reviews? Should they be mandatory for all students? And what changes could be made to the class review process to make it more effective? We conducted a survey and spoke with several students to get their take on the matter. 

“Yes, I feel that it’s very helpful because students’ opinions matter and it should be required because then it proves that they [the instructors] have gone through our review,” said Mahek Chaudhari, a third-year student in the faculty of Business Administration. She believes that the end-of-semester class reviews should be made compulsory for all students, as they can help to improve the overall quality of education on campus.  

In the same line of thought, Yug Shah, a fourth-year student currently pursuing a B.Sc Honours in Computer Science with a minor in Pure Mathematics, explains “Being a student as well as a lab instructor, I believe it is important that the faculty gets some feedback as to what is going right and what is going wrong with their style of teaching.”  

Shah’s firsthand experience in both roles as a student and a lab instructor enables him to understand how valuable it is for instructors to receive input from their students about what is working well and what could be improved. “I believe in providing feedback to the instructors since I understand how much it matters to me if I was teaching.” Shah’s emphasis on the significance of constructive criticism and two-way communication in academia is a reminder that learning is a collaborative effort that requires participation and engagement from both students and instructors. 

Another suggestion was to make the reviews more interactive, and potentially encourage students to provide more thoughtful and comprehensive feedback. “Maybe instructors could set aside some time in class for students to fill out the reviews together,” suggests Zakiyyah Noorally, a recent graduate in Computer Science and Economics. “That way, students can discuss their opinions collaboratively and make sure that at least everyone’s feedback is being heard.”  

While many students support the idea of making end-of-semester class reviews mandatory, not everyone agrees. One anonymous respondent to the survey expressed concerns about the authenticity of the feedback if students are forced to fill it out. “Data would be skewed if people are forced to fill it out and don’t make accurate or authentic answers,” the student said. Despite the majority (66.67 per cent) of the students responding positively, indicating that they believe such reviews are essential, the survey also revealed that only 33.33 per cent of students who responded always fill them out, while 16.67 per cent never do.  

This ambivalence regarding the end-of-semester class reviews raises the question of how to make the process more effective. “Make it a one-on-one talk,” suggests Chaudhari. On the other hand, Shah stated “I understand that not everyone would feel comfortable in providing feedback and sometimes, it feels like the feedback is not completely anonymous, so people fear being ostracized. If there was a guarantee that the feedback process was to be completely anonymous, and if there were some rewards tied to completing the feedback, more students would feel comfortable in providing this feedback.” Another student who chose to remain anonymous suggested using the reviews to base pay. While this may seem like an extreme solution, it raises the possibility of incentivizing both students and the faculty to take the process more seriously. 

While the end-of-semester class reviews remain a topic of debate, one thing is clear: only by creating a culture of open communication and transparency can faculty members foster a collaborative learning environment that prioritizes student success. Ultimately, the success of the end-of-semester class reviews relies on the willingness of both students and instructors to participate in the process and take it seriously. 

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