Student Feedback on Units

Student Feedback on Units and Teaching

We want your feedback!

The Student Feedback on Units (SFU) and Student Feedback on Teaching (SFT) surveys are run by the Office of Quality and Performance for each teaching period during the year. The feedback provided helps us improve teaching methods and units of study. The survey results inform unit content and design, learning guides, teaching methods, assessment processes and teaching materials.

SFU and SFT Dates

See the 2019 SFU and SFT Calendar(opens in a new window) for the active survey periods for each teaching session.

For the first half of 2019, the SFU and SFT opening and closing dates by semester are:

  • Summer: Opens 21 January and closes 17 February
  • Quarter 1: Opens 18 February and closes 24 March
  • WSU Online Trimester 1: Opens 15 April and closes 19 May
  • Term 1: Opens 6 May and closes 9 June
  • Sydney City Campus Session 1: Opens 13 May and closes 16 June
  • Quarter 2: Opens 13 May and closes 16 June
  • Autumn and First Half: Opens 13 May and closes 30 June

Contact Us

If you have any questions or feedback not addressed below about the SFU or SFT surveys or response rate dashboards, contact the Survey Team at surveys@westernsydney.edu.au or call 9678 7454 (Erin Greenaway).

How to give good feedback

We're more likely to be able to use your feedback if it is constructive, honest and detailed. You can provide more effective feedback by applying the ABC principles:

Accurate: Provide specific evidence and avoid sweeping generalisations. Instead of saying:  "The teacher is always late".
A more accurate statement could be:  "The teacher was 15 minutes late to three tutorials this semester".
Balanced: Evaluate both the positive and negative aspects. Instead of:   "The whole unit was worthless and had no practical application".
A more balanced statement could be:  "While the theory was taught well, the unit would benefit from more practical work".
Constructive: Offer solutions to the issue or problem. Instead of:  "The tutor was terrible and didn't know what they were doing".
A more constructive statement could be: "The tutor needs to come to class prepared with a plan of work for the lesson".

Please use these slides (opens in a new window) in class to encourage students to provide good feedback.

Source: Adapted from material by Sparqs (opens in a new window) Introductory Course Rep Training 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need student feedback?

The SFU and SFT help the University to ensure high quality teaching and learning, by providing evidence for areas of success and areas in need of improvement. Unit Coordinators are required to review their units every year, including SFU feedback, and critically reflect on required changes. The SFU survey data is also used in annual course reporting to measure course quality and effectiveness.

In addition, the Commonwealth Government, via TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency) (opens in a new window), has made it clear that universities need to seek student feedback, and that this will form one aspect of TEQSA's quality monitoring activity.

How do students complete the SFU and SFT?

For each teaching period, enrolled students will be sent an email advising that they have surveys to complete. When the survey opens, the Survey Team will email students a link to access their available surveys via the Survey Portal in vUWS. Students will then receive several reminder emails. Unit Coordinators and teaching staff will also be notified by email when the SFU and SFT go live.

How can staff monitor SFU and SFT response rates?

Staff can monitor response rates using the SFU Response Rate Dashboard (opens in a new window) and SFT Response Rate Dashboard (opens in a new window). The SFU dashboard will be updated daily with the latest response rate information for each unit by teaching calendar and also at the School and University level. The SFT Response Rate Dashboard allows teachers to monitor their individual response rates daily.

Will student feedback be kept confidential?

Individual responses are confidential and stored on a secure database. No identifying student information is provided in reports. Unit Coordinators receive a summary of the SFU results for their unit(s), while individual teachers receive a summary of their SFT results. This SFT summary is confidential to the individual, but may be requested by their Supervisor or Dean in some circumstances. If there are less than five responses, no summary will be prepared. Exam or assessment results cannot be modified based on survey feedback.

What reporting is created on the survey results?

The SFU reporting dashboards are currently unavailable while being updated to take into account changes to SFU dissemination practices. Individual unit reports are still available to Deans, Deputy Deans, Directors of Academic Programs and Unit Coordinators in PDF format on request from the Survey Team at Surveys@westernsydney.edu.au.

For the SFT, the University produces individual PDF reports for each staff member per unit surveyed. These reports are emailed directly to teachers after the survey closes and are confidential to the individual teacher, but may be requested by their Supervisor or Dean in some circumstances.

How does student feedback make a difference?

Over the past few years, student feedback has helped to improve clarity and consistency of assessment guidelines, change assessment due dates, update marking standards and criteria, change course and unit content and encourage flexible teaching by adding online components to many units. See how we use student feedback(opens in a new window) with examples from each School.

Why do students keep being sent reminder emails?

Good response rates are required for the SFU and SFT in order to ensure reliability of the feedback provided. To support the efforts of teaching staff in promoting the surveys, the Survey Team emails students regularly throughout the survey period to remind them to check their survey portal and complete any outstanding surveys.

Why didn't I receive an SFU or SFT?

If a student enrolls in a unit after the census date, they will not receive an SFU/SFT. If a teacher's details were not provided and matched with their class activities in the timetable, an SFT survey will not be generated for that teacher. If a class has less than 5 students enrolled, an SFU or SFT will not be generated for that class.

What's the difference between the SFU and SFT?

While the SFU assesses the overall quality of the unit, including content, structure, facilities etc., the SFT specifically collects feedback on each individual staff member's teaching. It is important to complete both the SFU and all SFTs for each unit you undertake, as each survey collects different but important information used to improve the quality of learning and teaching at the University.

How can staff encourage students to complete the surveys?

Higher response rates are achieved when students are reminded by their teacher during class. Informing students that staff are monitoring the response rate and want to receive their feedback has a positive impact on response rates. Additionally, we suggest the following strategies:

  • Allocate time in class – Set aside time in a lecture or tutorial for students to complete the survey online. Inform students that they can complete the survey on mobile devices as well as computers.
  • vUWS – Put up a message on your unit's vUWS site requesting students complete the SFU survey. You cannot link directly to the survey in vUWS because each student gets a unique link to their survey for each unit.
  • Discuss the surveys with students - Make time during class to talk about the surveys and why their responses are important. It can be helpful to give examples of how student feedback has been used in the past to inform improvements to the unit or learning experience. You can use the "how to give good feedback" slides above to support conversation about the surveys in class.

How have the SFU and SFT changed?

During 2016 a review was undertaken of the SFU and SFT which included a redesign of the survey items.

The principles used to inform the item redesign included:

  • Items should be easy to understand and engage with from student perspective;
  • Provide meaningful information that can be used to enhance learning outcomes;
  • Can be used to improve University performance on national course level quality measures.

The group involved in the redesign considered both the feedback obtained from student focus group sessions run in each School (over 100 students) and feedback from a range of senior university staff in relation to the new Higher Education Standards, external institutional quality indicators, internal university quality assurance and university curriculum strategies.

The redesigned SFU (opens in a new window) now has 10 items while the redesigned SFT (opens in a new window) has 8. Both still include the 'best aspects' and 'needs improvement' text response questions.