Skip to main content
Queen Mary Academy

PGCAP project: Exploring student engagement with feedback tools

A woman attaching a monitor to a man's arm
Bradley Neal profile picture

Dr Bradley Neal

Research Fellow

Collecting student feedback on teaching and learning in higher education is a common practice worldwide, and is used to inform both course/module design and staff promotion. However the process of gathering feedback presents a number of challenges which this project aims to address.

My personal reflection as an early career academic is that student engagement with evaluation tools is often poor, and that the feedback provided often relates to satisfaction, rather than the student learning experience. This may be related to the rising costs of higher education, reflected by the recent increase in tuition fees in the United Kingdom, with students ever more frequently viewing themselves as consumers of a product.

The challenges of student evaluation of teaching

There is concern in the literature that student evaluation of teaching has evolved beyond its formative origins, with summative methodologies being inaccurately applied, for example the erroneous application of parametric statistical tests to student feedback scales that predominantly involve categorical data. There are several other concerns within the literature; including inability to provide valid feedback on pedagogy, biases against staff from specific backgrounds (e.g., women or people from the BAME community), poor response rates and a focus on the individual rather than the module/course. Despite these concerns, student evaluation of teaching and learning can hold great value for both teaching staff and institutions when collected appropriately.

Collecting student feedback

My proposed project is to implement a novel method of collecting student feedback alongside traditional quantitative methods within a module that I lead, with the aim of improving student response rates and providing feedback with greater utility.

It is reported that collecting student feedback in class compared to using online methods leads to greater response rates without affecting the validity of feedback. It is also reported that qualitative methods result in feedback with richer detail and greater utility, but that without some structure it can lead to broad feedback that is challenging to analyse.

A solution that I have identified is to employ the stop, start, continue feedback method, reported to result in feedback of a lower volume but a greater utility because of the structure that it provides. I will apply this tool in class once the educational activities of the module are complete, to facilitate an improved response rate but will not coerce or incentivise students to maximise the validity of their feedback. This will allow me to compare student response rates between the two feedback methods and reflect personally on its utility for my own teaching.

This approach falls into the ethical zone of accepted practice for action research, but I will still need to obtain blanket consent from all students registered on the module. I can then seek to discuss these outcomes with both students and colleagues to further refine my reflections and aid in their subsequent application.

These learnings should be shared informally and formally with both students and colleagues, and I would anticipate a contribution to my institution’s framework of evaluation, to which useful student feedback should contribute.

Contributor profile 

Dr Bradley Neal is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine at the William Harvey Research Institute.

Dr Neal completed his MSc at the University of Hertfordshire in 2011, followed by his PhD in 2019 within Sports & Exercise Medicine at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Currently, he is a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Head of Research at Pure Sports Medicine, London’s leading private Sports Medicine clinic, alongside his post as a Research Fellow post at QMUL.

He has published in several leading peer-reviewed journals in his field, including the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Gait & Posture and Physical Therapy in Sport. His main research interests are in Patellofemoral Pain and other knee pathologies, biomechanics, running-related injury and the epidemiology of musculoskeletal conditions. Educationally, he has a particular interest in research methods, biomechanics & rehabilitation and student research projects, contributing to the delivery of both the intercalated BSc and MSc in Sports & Exercise Medicine. He has a developing role in the supervision of PhD candidates and currently has a strong interest in the successful remote supervision of research students.     

About PGCAP projects

PGCAP is the Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice, delivered by the Queen Mary Academy to staff teaching Queen Mary students.

The final module of PGCAP is Action (practitioner) Research. As part of this module, participants develop an Action Research Project Proposal. This is an excerpt from one such project proposal.


Back to top