Nurturing learning development through student feedback


  • Colette Mair University of Glasgow
  • Kieran Brown University of Glasgow
  • Emma Beekman University of Glasgow
  • Esther Olowe University of Glasgow
  • Callum Macaulay University of Glasgow



student evaluations, feedback process, student engagement


Student evaluations of both teaching and student services are increasingly embedded into higher education. There is debate surrounding the reliability, effectiveness, and bias of such evaluations (Hefferman, 2022) and National Student Survey (NSS) results (Office for Students, 2022) show that students typically respond poorly to questions relating to their learning community and their opportunities to give feedback on their experiences (student voice).


After receiving ethical approval to conduct research on evaluations, four students and a member of staff worked together to address how staff and students within the School of Mathematics and Statistics engage with student evaluations. Two surveys were conducted, the first aimed at staff (63 responses, 90% response rate) and the second at students (53 responses, 17% response rate). The results suggested that both staff and students agreed that evaluations are necessary and useful in building relationships. While staff implement the feedback they receive, students currently do not see it, and their learning may not benefit from being part of this process.


When asked to describe the purpose of student evaluations, participating staff expressed that they provide students with opportunities to have direct input to courses, influence their learning environment, and feel part of the school. Students expressed that their feedback could improve a course’s content, quality and delivery, and provide a learning opportunity for lecturers. Students indicated a preference for informal mid-term feedback since they could see their feedback acted upon in real time. In response, we propose the use of student evaluations as a feedback dialogue tool to encourage and enhance relationships between staff and students and help develop self-regulated learning. We will exemplify a feedback system that uses short, direct, and frequent surveys that students complete at the time of learning (Rowland, 2021), providing time to reflect on learning and creating a line of dialogic communication with the lecturer who can respond to the feedback to inform future learning. The system is applicable to any continuous student-staff learning-focused interaction.

Author Biographies

Colette Mair, University of Glasgow

Colette Mair is a lecturer in Statistics in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Glasgow. She has an interest in pedagogy with a focus on understanding student belonging and success.

Kieran Brown, University of Glasgow

Kieran Brown is an undergraduate student studying Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Glasgow. He has an interest in how the student's voice is heard and acted upon within undergraduate studies.

Emma Beekman, University of Glasgow

Emma Beekman is a student at the University of Glasgow studying Mathematics and Statistics. She found the project to be very enlightening and a great way to give back to the community. Emma is going into a trainee actuarial position after graduating next year.

Esther Olowe, University of Glasgow

Esther Olowe is a student at the University of Glasgow studying Statistics. She found learning about the importance of evaluation processes in the educational system very illuminating. She is currently undertaking a placement in Public Health Scotland and is hoping to continue work in health and medical statistics after her degree.

Callum Macaulay, University of Glasgow

Calum Macaulay is a fourth-year joint Statistics and Psychology student. He is writing his dissertation on the unconscious mechanism which underlies mental representations of magnitude. Ultimately, he aims to work as a football statistician.


Bailey, R. A. (2009) ‘Undergraduate students’ perceptions the role and utility of written assessment feedback’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 1, February, pp.1-14.

Burns, A. (2013) ‘Negotiating feedback: lecturer perceptions of feedback dissatisfaction’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 6, November, pp.1-15.

Heffernan, T. (2022) ‘Sexism, racism, prejudice, and bias: a literature review and synthesis of research surrounding student evaluations of courses and teaching’, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(1), pp.144-154.

Kinsella, C. and Kaye, L. (2022) ‘You said, we did – now what? Why student voice initiatives need a rethink’, Times Higher Education, 30 August. Available at: (Accessed: 30 August 2023).

Office for Students (2022), National Student Survey – NSS. Available at : (Accessed: 30 May 2022).

Rowland, O. (2021) ‘Listening to students in real time: how feedback leads to success’, OU Learning Design team blog. Available at: (Accessed: 30 August 2023).

Whistance, T. (2014) ‘The use of IPAD technology to give multi-modal feedback to British Sign Language/English Interpreting undergraduate students’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Special Issue, November, pp.1-12.




How to Cite

Mair, C. (2023) “Nurturing learning development through student feedback”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1116.

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