Is students' qualitative feedback changing, now it is online?

Sandeep Gakhal, Caroline Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    28 Downloads (Pure)


    Student feedback can be used to enable institutions to achieve the best possible outcomes for students through informing changes which enhance the quality of teaching and learning. Following the introduction of an online survey platform to gather student feedback at a top-performing UK university, anecdotal concerns raised by academics suggested students were being more critical. This exploratory study investigated the effects of switching from a paper to an online survey by comparing the open-ended responses between the two methods of collection. The main contribution of this study is the development of an analytical framework which can be used by other institutions to evaluate student comments, in order to understand and improve the student experience. Three key findings in this study were uncovered. Firstly, the quality of student feedback is not undermined by a switch to a more efficient online collection. Secondly, student comments via both methods of collection predominantly continue to focus on fulfilling basic needs, such as study resources. Finally, a small number of comments online revealed a lack of behavioural constraint and were considered to be inappropriate. These findings have important policy implications for the global higher education sector, highlighting the need for students to be given guidance on providing constructive feedback.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)476-488
    Number of pages13
    JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
    Issue number3
    Early online date30 Oct 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in
    Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education on 30/10/2018, available

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • higher education
    • online disinhibition
    • social media
    • student surveys

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


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