Most Estonian institutions of higher education have some sort of feedback system through which students can voice their opinions about academic quality. These systems are an important tool of assuring the quality of higher education as well as enhancing the competitiveness of academic institutions. However, there is a need to map the diverse aims, methods and results of different higher education institutions in order to learn from good practices and improve data collection process and application of results. Since recently, functional feedback systems are also a requirement for accreditation for higher education institutions.
The study analyzes 21 institutions of higher education in Estonia to give an overview of the various feedback systems and give policy suggestions for future initiatives. This is done by answering four questions: why student feedback is gathered, how it is gathered, how the results are disclosed and how the results are used. The broad overview is based mostly on document analysis, more specific qualitative insights are gained from interviews with representatives of 3 different higher education institutions.
The analysis results in nine main recommendations for designing an effective feedback system:
- Optimally short questionnaire with specific questions that reveal only valuable information that can be used later
- Partially compulsory participation
- Awareness of the importance of feedback systems among students and lecturers
- Encourage asking and giving oral feedback next to written feedback
- Accessible results for students
- Visually attractive and comprehensive results
- Decreased fear of receiving feedback among lecturers
- Emphasis on positive feedback
- Transparent utilization of feedback results