Best Practices for Gathering Student Feedback

Written by Explorance.

Students giving feedback

In the ever-evolving landscape of Higher Education, the pursuit of excellence is a constant. At the heart of this endeavour lies a crucial element that is often underused: the student voice. Gathering student feedback is not merely a formality; it is an indispensable tool that can shape the very essence of educational institutions and enhance the teaching and learning experience for all involved.

In today’s rapidly changing world, where remote learning, digital platforms, and diverse student populations are becoming the norm, understanding the nuances of effective feedback collection has never been more critical. Institutions that prioritize gathering student feedback empower themselves to adapt, grow, and deliver education that resonates with their learners’ evolving needs and expectations.

In this guide, we explore some best practices for gathering student feedback. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of student feedback surveys, uncover innovative AI-powered techniques for amplifying the student voice, and demonstrate their profound impact on education today.

Methods for Collecting Student Feedback

In the modern educational landscape, gathering feedback cannot be contained within the classroom, because the student voice extends beyond that. There are numerous methods for collecting student feedback inside and outside the traditional classroom environment to help Higher Education institutions get a comprehensive view of students’ perspectives. Here are some contemporary approaches:

  1. Online Surveys and Questionnaires: Institutions can use a fully centralized Feedback Analytics platform like Explorance Blue to create and distribute student questionnaires. These surveys can cover various aspects of the learning experience, such as course content, teaching methods, and institutional services.
  2. Real-time Feedback Apps: Some institutions utilize real-time feedback apps or platforms that enable students to provide immediate feedback about anything related to their academic experience, such as administrative processes, support services, and campus facilities. This can be especially valuable for adjusting the teaching approach on the spot.
  3. Focus Groups: Organizing focus groups with students can provide qualitative insights into their experiences. These sessions allow for in-depth discussions on specific topics, helping educators better understand student perspectives.
  4. Social Media and Online Communities: Students often share their experiences and feedback on social media platforms and in online communities like review sites. Institutions can monitor these channels to gather feedback and address concerns.
  5. Email and Communication Channels: Providing students with dedicated email addresses or communication channels for feedback can encourage them to share their thoughts and concerns privately.
  6. Exit Surveys: Conducting exit surveys when students graduate or leave an institution can provide valuable insights into their overall experiences and any areas that need improvement.
  7. Peer and Self-Assessment: Incorporating peer and self-assessment into the learning process can encourage students to reflect on their experiences and provide feedback on their own performance and that of their peers.

1. Create a Safe Feedback Gathering Environment

In student feedback collection, numerous factors converge to either elevate or hinder the success of your endeavor. Elements such as suboptimal survey design, bad timing, and unintuitive survey tools can influence engagement and skew the outcomes.

However, the linchpin for establishing a conducive environment for feedback gathering lies in the institution’s overarching data ethos. Here, we delve into the fundamental cornerstones that underpin any effective feedback-gathering process, offering a fresh perspective on the art of harnessing student insights.


Whether motivated by concerns of repercussions or a desire for privacy, students are far more likely to provide candid and honest responses when they are guaranteed that their responses will remain confidential. It is advisable to dissociate student responses from their identities in most feedback scenarios. You can significantly boost response rates and collected data quality by firmly establishing confidentiality from the outset.


Trust is vital in the realm of student feedback surveys, especially as you conduct them over time. To foster trust, it is imperative to demonstrate a clear connection between survey results and concrete actions taken by the Higher Education institution. Students become more inclined to engage when they see tangible outcomes resulting from their feedback. Building this trust is an ongoing process that can yield substantial benefits in the long run.


Student feedback gathering should not be isolated occurrences but rather an integral part of a consistent schedule that students can anticipate. Consistency underscores your commitment to improvement and allows for a more accurate evaluation of trends over time. Integrating student feedback surveys and questionnaires into a predictable routine enhances your institution’s ability to effectively glean valuable insights and track progress.


No one likes to answer a survey without knowing what it is for. When distributing a student survey, it is essential to be abundantly clear about its purpose, the reasons behind the questions, and the potential decisions that could stem from the gathered data. Transparency fosters goodwill and empowers students to provide informed and purposeful feedback, creating a more productive feedback loop between institutions and learners.

2. Ask Questions That Matter

The effectiveness of your student survey largely hinges on the questions you pose. If students perceive your questions as irrelevant or disconnected from their expectations, they may opt not to participate at all.

Determining the right questions to ask is intrinsically linked to the unique context of your institution, encompassing its history, focus, and student demographics. Nevertheless, there are overarching themes that should be addressed in all student feedback surveys:

Course-related Questions: Student feedback surveys provide a valuable opportunity to gauge the quality of your courses. However, framing these questions around core aspects such as knowledge transfer, course structure, and availability is crucial rather than focusing solely on teacher performance. This approach mitigates concerns about potential repercussions for educators.

Inclusivity: The evolving composition of student bodies requires institutions to navigate the complex terrain of inclusivity. Student feedback surveys excel in addressing this sensitive issue. Thoughtfully crafted questions and a confidentiality guarantee can yield insights into where your institution succeeds and where it must enhance inclusivity efforts.

Campus Resources: The users of campus resources are the best judges of their quality. Invite students to provide input on potential campus improvements, the accessibility of tutoring services, and instructor office hours. Seize this opportunity to gather opinions on recent decisions that affect the campus environment.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative: Striking a balance between quantitative, choice-based questions and open-ended, qualitative responses is essential. While quantitative data offers ease of processing and analysis, qualitative answers hold the potential to unveil broader trends, especially when harnessed with technologies leveraging AI and machine learning. Read our blog on Mastering Survey Questions for AI Comment Analysis, and learn how Explorance MLY analyzes 1 million student comments in an hour.

Question Timing: The timing of specific questions can significantly impact engagement and the quality of responses. Student sentiments may differ at the start and end of a semester. To gain a comprehensive view, consider asking similar questions at different points throughout the year to track the evolution of trends.

3. Close the Feedback Loop

At the heart of effective student feedback gathering lies a crucial element: demonstrating the purpose of these endeavours to students. This connection is best achieved through transparency, an overarching principle that instills trust and propels the feedback process toward meaningful outcomes.

Utilizing Results in Decision-Making: One pivotal strategy for demonstrating the purpose of student feedback surveys is to integrate their results into the institution’s decision-making processes. Failure to do so can create a dissonance that impedes future engagement. When students repeatedly witness decisions that seem at odds with the insights they’ve provided, they may become disheartened, leading to survey fatigue or a tendency to rush through surveys without providing thoughtful responses.

To ensure the feedback loop’s continued vitality, institutions must commit to leveraging the feedback they receive to inform executive decisions. This alignment between feedback and action reinforces the significance of student input and engenders a culture of responsiveness within the institution.

Sharing Survey Results: In an era of digital connectivity, most educational institutions boast an intranet or student portal for communicating with their student body. While posting survey results on such platforms may not be obligatory, it is a powerful catalyst for bolstering engagement in future surveys.

By sharing survey results, institutions provide students with a compelling incentive to participate and give them the context needed to understand subsequent decisions and actions. This proactive approach bridges the gap between student feedback and institutional response, reinforcing the symbiotic relationship between the two. Closing the feedback loop is not merely a procedural step; it’s a commitment to transparency that nurtures trust and forges a resilient connection between students and the institution. By infusing purpose into the feedback process, institutions can elevate engagement and empower students to be catalysts for meaningful change.

4. Say Goodbye to Data Siloes

When different departments or units within a Higher Education institution collect and store student feedback separately, it can hinder the institution’s ability to provide a holistic and student-centered education. Breaking down these silos is essential for several reasons:

  • Enhanced Student Experience
  • Data Accuracy
  • Resource Optimization
  • Identifying Trends
  • Institutional Accountability

Breaking down data silos requires a strategic and collaborative effort within higher education institutions. Here are steps to consider:

Create a Cross-Functional Team: Form a team with representatives from various departments involved in student feedback collection, analysis, and decision-making. This team should work collaboratively to establish a unified feedback strategy.

Implement a Centralized Feedback Analytic Platform: Invest in technology infrastructure that allows for the central storage and management of student feedback data, like Explorance Blue. Ensure that this system is accessible to relevant stakeholders across the institution for their feedback-gathering and analysis processes.

Establish Data Governance Policies: Develop data governance policies and procedures that outline data sharing, access, security, and privacy standards. These policies should be followed rigorously to maintain data integrity.

Integrate Data Analytics: Employ data analytics tools and techniques to derive insights from integrated data, such as your Student Information System (SIS) or Learning Management System (LMS). Advanced analytics can uncover patterns, correlations, and predictive models that inform decision-making.

Promote a Culture of Collaboration: Encourage a culture of collaboration and information sharing across departments. Incentivize cross-functional teams to work together on projects related to student feedback and improvement initiatives.

Regularly Review and Adapt: Continuously assess the effectiveness of your integrated approach to student feedback data. Adjust based on feedback from students and stakeholders and emerging best practices in data management.

Conclusion: Elevating Institutional Growth through Thoughtful Student Feedback

In the journey toward institutional growth and excellence, the proper collection and analysis of student feedback emerges as the sturdy backbone upon which transformation is built. While investing in the right tools and processes may necessitate an initial commitment, the dividends they yield are bound to outweigh the costs by far.

At its core, a successful student feedback campaign embodies simplicity:

  1. Secure and User-Friendly Platform: Ensure a safe and convenient method for students to provide feedback, creating an environment where they can freely express their thoughts.
  2. Relevant and Meaningful Questions: Craft questions that resonate with students’ concerns and interests, focusing on areas that truly matter to them.
  3. Unwavering Transparency: Maintain transparent communication about the purpose of your survey and how the collected data will inform decisions and actions.
  4. No Data Siloes: Break down data siloes, which hinder efficient information flow and collaboration, leading to missed opportunities for informed decision-making and organizational growth.
  5. Closing the Feedback Loop: Analyze the data and develop a set of responsive points for action to improve your institution’s feedback culture.

Engagement naturally follows when these five pillars form the foundation of your feedback-gathering strategy. The decisions you make, rooted in student insights, will be well received and propel your institution toward a future defined by continual improvement, heightened engagement, and a commitment to excellence. Remember, investing in student feedback is an investment in the collective success of your educational community.

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