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Diana Williams, OCSLD
The topic of the paper
This paper examines the potential of using the Nominal Group Technique ( Delbecq and Van de Ven 1971) as a structured evaluation tool to build upon the feedback gathered through the National Student Survey (NSS).
Why it is of concern
The survey provides valuable quantitative data that can be used to improve the quality of the student learning experience. However, there is a lack of qualitative information about students’ views, experiences and expectations. An analysis of the scores from the 2005/06 NSS showed that the School X had improved the average score on each section of the questionnaire and that the majority of the individual responses had also improved. However, the lowest scoring response (3.1) " Feedback on my work is prompt" remained the same.
What was done (methods)
The nominal group technique (NGT) was used as this is a method that provides an opportunity to involve students in the evaluation of their student experience in a non-threatening and permissive environment (Gaskin, 2001) . Student volunteers were brought together for a discussion session led by a facilitator. Each individual was asked to generate and then discuss ideas in response to the prompt question 'How can feedback on my assessments be improved?' Individuals were then asked to prioritise ideas and these ratings were collected and collated by the facilitator. Further rich data was obtained through an analysis of the discussions.
What are the main outcomes
The results provided both quantitative and qualitative data on the student experience of feedback on assessed work in the school of X. Analysis of the initial findings show that ratings of ideas on improving feedback on assessment were in line with the results of the NSS. So ‘more prompt feedback’ was ranked either first or second. Further discussion generated some useful data on areas where feedback took longer and the impact this had on student experience. For example, ‘You’re worried about it and everything’; ‘the stress factor is not taken into account’ and ‘I find it hard to continue with what I was doing coz I didn’t know how I had done in the previous subject’. It also highlighted areas of good practice and where improvements had enhanced student experience. For example, ‘my unit get pretty prompt emails in the next couple of days which is good’ and ‘I think it is great from previous years at Brookes that they do now have all these assessment sheets’. There were some clear ideas on ways in which the assessment process could be improved using evaluation of the student experience. The study also illustrates how the nominal group technique is a useful way for lecturers to build upon the results of the NSS and obtain quantitative and qualitative data about the student learning experience