Informal student feedback is one of UQ's course and teaching quality enhancement mechanisms.

It enables you to check in with your students, receive timely feedback and implement evidence-based changes that will make a difference to the current cohort before their course finishes.

With informal student feedback, you have the autonomy to customise questions, select your favourite tool, and make it as fun as possible to collect feedback. It's different to the formal Student Evaluation of Course and Teacher (SECaT) process, which is a quality assurance mechanism to meet the University’s regulatory requirements at the institutional level.

ITaLI aims to empower staff to run instant polls or surveys for informal in-class student feedback by leveraging existing tools and resources listed below. If you wish to pilot any of these tools, our eLearning advisers and the Student Surveys and Evaluations Team are happy to provide advice and technical support.

When to seek feedback from students

Below is a draft semester-based timeline to help you plan and administer informal student feedback surveys prior to SECaT evaluations.

Week 1–2Plan for informal student feedback over the semester
Week 3–4Design and test informal student feedback tools
Week 5–6Collect informal in class feedback (T1)
Interim-semester breakAnalyse data/pull-out findings and discuss them with your colleagues and supervisor
Week 7Share feedback with your students and implement changes, if any
Week 8–9Re-run informal class feedback (T2) to check on the outcome of changes implemented, if appropriate
Week 10–12SECaT evaluations (centrally administered/summative evaluation)
Post grade finalisation/receiving SECaT reportsClose the feedback loop with students by sharing informal feedback and SECaT comments. Add a summary of students’ feedback to the relevant ECP section.

Digital tools for collecting informal student feedback

There are many ways that you can collect informal class feedback from students, especially if it is self-administered to suit your teaching plan over the semester.

You can consider any of the following tools, depending on your goals and context – most of them can be integrated into your Learn.UQ (Blackboard) course site.

Collect real-time (instant) feedback and share it with students during a lecture

UQ Active Learn (supported by eLearning)

UQ Active Learn is a suite of three applications: UQpoll, UQwordcloud, UQwordstream. These applications are used to collect student responses to a question or a series of questions posed during a lecture/tutorial. It means that you receive instant feedback and can share it with your students during a lecture.

Students can respond using a web-enabled device (PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android device or other smartphones).

While questions can be posed via multiple channels, it is recommended to write them on a PowerPoint slide to engage students in external and internal classes, if they are taught concurrently. 

  • Written in a PowerPoint slide (internal and/or external)
  • Written on the whiteboard (internal)
  • Verbally (internal)

UQpoll automatically collates student responses to a multiple-choice question with a maximum of five answer options (A to E). It is quick and easy to set up but has limitations in terms of the number of questions you can ask at any one time. Also, you can’t rename answers on the poll directly. Results are displayed as a graph. You can save results as an image or a .csv spreadsheet file.

UQwordcloud automatically collates student responses to a short answer question. The results are displayed as a brainstorm/word cloud. You can save results as an image or a .csv spreadsheet file.

UQwordstream collates student responses to an open-ended question. The results are automatically displayed as a Wordstream. You can save results as a .csv spreadsheet file only.

ZoomPoll (ideal for courses delivered entirely online in external mode)

ZoomPoll is a great option as it can be used during online lectures. You can poll students to check their understanding or gather views on a particular topic or aspect of your course and teaching with up to 10 possible answer options in a multiple-choice question. There are new question types available, as well as the option to make students’ responses anonymous.

Collect non-instant feedback to give your students more time to reflect

PadletUQ (supported by eLearning)

Padlet is an online tool that allows you to create virtual boards. Students can provide feedback underneath points/questions. They can also upload media such as GIFs and videos anonymously in a secure location.

PadletUQ is available to both UQ staff and students. PadletUQ has both comments and likes enabled to encourage students to provide feedback on specific teaching or assessment in the semester. Padlet is a useful tool for online and blended courses or for large cohort courses where face-to-face interactions are less frequent. Padlet posts can be backed up and published as either image files or PDF files.

Padlet must be searchable by the entire organisation for student names to appear, otherwise student responses are anonymous. There is also no reporting functionality.

ITaLI’s eLearning team provides a guide on how to remake the Padlet template. Course coordinators in MEDI7211 and others have already adopted Padlet to seek students’ feedback. Dr Joan Li and her team are more than happy to provide advice if you are interested.

H5P (supported by eLearning)

H5P is an open-source online toolbox of activities that allows staff to create and share interactive content in courses. There is a range of content types that may be suitable for collecting feedback such as Multipoll, Emoticon Cloud and WordCloud.

Multipoll in H5P is an excellent option to explore – including new polling question types. Mutlipoll can be anonymous if using the game code option, but no information is retained in reporting afterwards – it is live/online only while deploying the poll.

All H5P content must be linked to a Learn.UQ course for reporting data to be available in H5P.

To access H5P and begin creating interactive learning objects, please contact the eLearning team to request a license.

Other survey tools to collect student feedback

Microsoft Forms (supported by ITS)

UQ staff have access to Microsoft Forms part of the Microsoft 365 suite. The Student Surveys and Evaluations Team recommends Microsoft Forms as the best supported tool for gathering student feedback with multiple question types, anonymous functionality, and greater control over who can complete the poll. If not already signed in, respondents will be prompted to log-in using their UQ credentials.

Microsoft Forms allows you to create surveys and responses in the form of students' ratings and/or feedback that can be exported to Excel.

View the Microsoft Forms online resources for further support.

Checkbox (supported by ITS)

Checkbox is UQ's centrally supported survey tool. Checkbox allows anyone with a UQ staff account to develop and conduct surveys for UQ staff and students.

Please contact the ITS Helpdesk for support with Checkbox.

Qualtrics (supported by ITS)

Qualtrics is a web-based survey tool used to conduct survey research, evaluations and other data collection activities.

Find out how you can access Qualtrics and get support.

Using interviews to collect feedback

Interviews can be one-on-one interactions between an interviewer and an interviewee or a group interview. Unlike a focus group, an interview is designed to extract individualised experiences, not a consensus. Interviews can be conducted via telephone, video conference (like Zoom), or face-to-face.

Interviews can be used for:

  • eliciting narratives
  • verification of facts in context 
  • measuring attitudes
  • exploring individual differences between participants' experiences and outcomes
  • understanding the meaning of a program to its participants.

Interviews are not useful for:

  • deciding whether your intervention caused changes or effects in participants
  • drawing data on ‘sensitive’ issues
  • accessing perspectives of the reluctant
  • generating statistical data.

Types of interviews

Unstructured

The interviewee expresses themselves freely and can discuss unplanned topics because there is no predetermined set of questions. The evaluator intervenes only to generate and develop questions relating to the interviewee's comments. This type of interview is particularly interesting at the start of an evaluation in order to get a global view of the subject and identify the major topics and issues.

Semi-structured

The evaluator modifies the interview guide's instructions with additional questions in order to develop useful areas of inquiry during the interview. This type of interview is the most frequently used, particularly when the evaluator is clear about the aims and the main questions to pose during the evaluation.

Structured

The evaluator follows strictly the interview guide's instructions. They ask different interviewees the same set of questions, in the same order, and using the same words. The evaluator avoids generating and developing additional questions and the interviewee is not given the opportunity to express himself/herself freely. Answers to each question tend to be short.

Structured interviews are seldom used in evaluation, where the evaluator needs to adapt to the situation. However, they can be used to classify points of view and information about the impact of a project/program by categories. Thereafter, the evaluator can use the results of these interviews to design a questionnaire with a view to analysing the impact of the project/program.

    Focus groups

    Focus groups usually involve 8-10 people, but the minimum permittable size is 5-6. They are highly structured, interactive, and the facilitator needs to be attentive to group interaction. Unlike group interviews, the focus group aims to attain a consensus view.

    Focus groups should be conducted face-to-face or via video conference, as the interactions and non-verbal responses are as important as the verbal.

    Focus groups can be used for:

    • informing the design of survey instruments
    • drawing data on ‘sensitive’ issues
    • accessing perspectives of the reluctant
    • drilling down to events as they unfold
    • testing new ideas/products/services.

    Students as Partners activities 

    Students as Partners (SaP) can provide crucial insights and evidence of learning. When students are positioned as partners in university communities, they become ‘more than students’ or ‘consumers’. Students become active participants with valuable expertise to contribute to shaping learning, teaching, and assessment.

    Student-Led Observation for Course Improvement (SLOCI) program

    In­-class observations by trained student observers, combined with surveys and focus groups, are used to gather evidence and share their observations and data with course teachers. SLOCI has limited places each semester, so academics are encouraged to make early SLOCI enquiries with their faculty-based learning design team.

    The Science Faculty have a formalised student partner activity whereby students are employed to observe a course or initiative to provide a fuller picture of learning and engagement within the course.

    Learn more about UQ's Students as Partners activities

    Open Response Questionnaire

    The Open Response Questionnaire consists of 5 open-ended questions: 2 relating to the teaching, and 3 relating to the course.

    Academics may use the completed Open Response Questionnaire to receive feedback. The University will ensure that all data is collected and managed in accordance with the relevant University policies and privacy legislation, including the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld).