Revisiting the validity debate on student feedback from a qualitative perspective

Elizabeth Santhanam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Student feedback on teaching has been a frequent topic for discussion in conferences and in research publications. The discussion often focuses on the reliability and/or validity of student feedback. Although some argue that research outcomes indicate that student ratings are generally reliable and valid, others present evidence to show that student ratings are unreliable or biased. Despite the arguments against the use of student ratings in evaluating the quality of teaching and learning, the use of instruments to collect rating-type feedback continues to expand in the higher education sector. Anecdotal feedback from staff indicates that some lecturers ignore information collected through student feedback questionnaires. A common reason given by these lecturers for dismissing such student feedback is that students write inappropriate comments and therefore the data collected through the forms is unreliable and invalid. In order to identify the extent of inappropriate comments, a study was undertaken to examine the quality of students written comments in feedback forms that had both rating-type and open-ended questions. A modified SOLO taxonomy was used to categorise the comments. The study found that inappropriate comments were evident in an insignificant proportion of completed feedback forms in most surveys. The findings of this study could help to convince academic staff that student feedback can be useful for improving the quality of teaching and learning experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Evaluation Forum 2005
EditorsCraig Turnbull, Catherine Pratt
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherUniversity of New South Wales
Pages73 - 81
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralian Universities Quality Forum (AUQF) 2005: Engaging Communities - The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 6 Jul 20058 Jul 2005


ConferenceAustralian Universities Quality Forum (AUQF) 2005
Abbreviated titleAUQF 2005

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