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Gathering student feedback on teaching quality

Great teachers are always looking for ways to improve their practice, and the best source of feedback – their students – is right there in the classroom, says ACER Principal Research Fellow Dr Lawrence Ingvarson in Teacher.

As previously reported in Research Developments, research consistently shows that students are highly reliable sources of information about the quality of teaching; even more reliable than classroom observations, and more cost effective.

‘Students have valuable insights into classroom teaching and how it might be improved,’ Dr Ingvarson says. ‘After all, no one observes us more than they do.’

The ACER Student Perception of Teaching Questionnaire (SPTQ) gives teachers credible evidence about the quality of their teaching. Dr Ingvarson explains that the questionnaire has been designed to ensure that students are asked only about their classroom experience – factual matters about which they are in a good position to make informed judgments – and are not asked to compare teachers.

‘As teachers, we are all a little apprehensive about feedback from our students,’ Dr Ingvarson says.   ‘However, our experience with the SPTQ is that the risk is worth it. Students act responsibly to the opportunity.’

The SPTQ also gives school leaders information that can be used to identify professional learning needs or as the basis for rewarding and recognising teachers who attain high teaching standards.

‘Feedback is an essential part of learning, especially when we want to improve our practice and attain high professional standards,’ Dr Ingvarson says. ‘The SPTQ is firmly grounded in research on the characteristics of effective teaching and closely matches the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.’

How it works

The SPTQ can be administered in different ways to suit the needs of individual teachers and school leaders. The 15-minute, confidential online survey can be given to a single teacher or to a group of teachers, and can be conducted annually to measure improvement in the quality of teaching over time.

Results from the questionnaire are reported against two domains and eight sub-scales.

Domain 1. Learning environment

  1. Respect and rapport
  2. The learning culture
  3. Managing classroom activities
  4. Managing student behaviour

Domain 2. Teaching practices

  1. Purposeful teaching
  2. Effective teaching strategies
  3. Student engagement
  4. Assessment and feedback

Dr Ingvarson says schools use the results in a variety of ways – from identifying teachers in need of support or professional learning to providing evidence in support of promotion.

Read the full article:
‘Improving practice through student feedback’ by Dr Lawrence Ingvarson was published in Teacher on 10 April 2018.

Further information:
Find out more about the ACER Student Perception of Teaching Questionnaire.

RD

About the author

Dr Lawrence Ingvarson is a Principal Research Fellow in ACER's Teaching and Learning research program.

More [rd] articles by Lawrence Ingvarson

View selected works of Lawrence Ingvarson

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