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Moving towards a flexible learning environment: Implications for student evaluation

Christina Ballantyne and David Collings
Teaching and Learning Centre, Murdoch University
Like many other higher education institutions, Murdoch University is currently moving towards a flexible learning environment where students are able to select how and when they study. Units/modules are being viewed as a coherent package of resources rather than being offered in various distinct modes of delivery (internal, external, online). This paper considers how a student feedback system might best respond to such a new environment.

A continuing rise in the use of online learning strategies suggests an increase in the use of online student feedback. Some of the issues which have already arisen with online surveys, response rates, confidentiality, etc, may become more prominent and new problems could emerge. With a flexible learning environment it seems natural to assume a flexible approach to student feedback - an appropriate mix of online and paper based methods. However, multiple response modes may increase the possibility of duplication of responses, or at least the perception by staff that this can happen. How do we balance the need for student confidentiality against other aspects of the integrity of the evaluation system? Is it possible that any existing culture of trust among staff and students may be undermined by an increased emphasis on preventing abuse of a system whose main aim should be to gain frank and constructive feedback? Five units are currently running at Murdoch University as pilot flexible units. Examples of how student feedback has been collected in these units and issues that have arisen are discussed.

Please cite as: Ballantyne, C. and Collings, D. (2003). Moving towards a flexible learning environment: Implications for student evaluation. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/ballantyne-abs.html

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Last revision: 13 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/ballantyne-abs.html