An opportunity for involvement

Quality improvement for students: opportunities for student participation

Feedback from students on various levels play a key role in quality improvement for studies and teaching

Strong student involvement is key to improving teaching and study programs, whether it is through feedback gathered in surveys or active student participation in various commissions and work groups. What follows are the most important types of student participation under the “Stuttgart Evaluation Model.”

Taking part in course surveys (LV) is voluntary for students. The surveys, however, provide an outstanding tool for stimulating improvements in the teaching of a student’s own study program.

Why? The course surveys offer students an opportunity for rating individual classes. The survey objective is for teachers receiving constructive feedback from students for individual improvements of courses. For this reason, the results should be discussed with the students after conclusion of the survey to help identify potential improvements.

When? Each course survey takes place in mid-semester.

How often? Each course must be rated at least biannually. If called for, teachers may let their course be surveyed every semester.

What else? In addition to discussing the results in the course itself, the results feed into module reports and module surveys, which are made available to the individual responsible for the module or to the Dean of Studies at regular intervals (normally every two years).  

Personal privacy? Your data is secured and are destroyed after the evaluation. The survey questionnaires are audited regularly by the State Commissioner for Data Protection of Baden-Württemberg (ZENDAS) universitites. No evaluations are based on five or fewer questionnaires to prevent their being traced back to individuals. The written data entries are scanned in. To prevent divulging data on individual persons, student should alter their handwriting when filling out paper surveys.

How is a module survey done?  The survey for each selected module – mostly core and compulsory modules – is conducted during non-teaching weeks. It captures your skills acquisition, amount of work (including exam preparation) and the combined effects of the various module courses (for instance, lecture and practice). This is an online survey. If a module is scheduled for a survey, all students signed up for exams receive an email ten days before the last module exam inviting their participation in the survey, followed by a reminder email three days before the module exam.  

Why do I get several survey invitations? Students completing several modules in the same semester are entitled to participate in a survey for each. A module survey takes about two minutes to complete.

Why should I participate?  The module survey is your chance to evaluate all module sub-units as well its framework conditions. The survey objective is to let students participate in improving the entire module through the teachers involved in it. Therefore, the results are conveyed to the module convener and reported up to the Dean of Studies.

When? The module survey takes place approximately ten days before the examination, so that students can realistically gauge the total volume of work.

How often? All core and compulsory modules are evaluated at regular intervals – as a rule, every two years – with more than 30 examination registrations and with a central examination date. As needed, the study program head can announce other modules to be surveyed.

What else? The results feed into module reports and module overviews which are furnished to the module convener or the Dean of Studies. The Academic Planning Committee then discusses if teachers and students should revisit a given module for a closer look. This takes the form of the so-called “module commentary.”

The module commentary process (c)
The module commentary process

How can I contribute to the commentary on the module report? The Stuttgart Evaluation Model provides that, on request of the Academic Planning Committee, students and teachers in a module use the module report as a basis for a conversation on the strengths and weaknesses of the module.  If you want to take part in such module commentary, you are free to contact the module convener. By the same token, the Student Council, the student representatives on your Academic Planning Committee and the staff of the Evaluation Department are available for further inquiries.

Why should I take part in the commentary? Experience has shown that it is possible to have meetings in which individual modules are discussed objectively and constructively. The comprehensive data on which the module report is based helps to bring about meaningful changes and improvements. When you take part in a commentary session, you help the module convener put the data in the proper perspective. The module conveners are dutybound to follow up on the module commentary by passing the results on to the authorities responsible for the study program.

When and how frequently? A commentary only takes place on request (possibly by the students in the module or the Academic Planning Committee). This means that you can turn directly to the Academic Planning Committee or the Dean of Studies to suggest a module for commentary should you feel that it needs improving.

What else? The results of the commentary are passed on to the study program authorities and are discussed in the Academic Planning Committee.

Besides the active participation by students in the Academic Planning Committee and module commentaries, student participation in the study program Review Committee is among the most important venues for students to work in support of their study program’s quality improvement. Every study program has to undergo a study program review every four to six years.This involves identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement for a study program with due regard given to various perspectives. The University of Stuttgart’s Review Committee then adopts concluding recommendations and, if necessary, also imposes conditions on the respective study program. In doing so, the Committee relies on students making themselves heard, and in the Committee’s deliberations it places importance on feedback from students on the academic feasibility of the study programs.  

The University of Stuttgart’s Student Union stuvus organizes participation in the reviews. If you are interested, you are free to approach stuvus directly.

Marlene Scherfer

Marlene Scherfer

Provisional Head, quality development study programs

Janina Gresser

Janina Gresser

Evaluation, teaching evaluation, graduate survey

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