YourJCU Subject and Teaching Survey

Frequently Asked Questions

JCU encourages staff to use multiple methods for evaluating and improving the quality of their subjects and teaching; student feedback is one such method. It is important for staff not to rely solely on student feedback for reflective practice and professional development. View the 4Q model of evaluation (PDF, 171 KB), which highlights four major domains for assessing and improving teaching and lists other suitable methods for evaluation.

If your question cannot be answered via the FAQs below, please contact the Survey Coordinator.

What does the survey look like?

The YourJCU Subject and Teaching Survey is an online survey instrument delivered to students via their email or LearnJCU personalised login environment.

At a time and location of their choosing, students respond to questions about their subject and teaching delivery, as well as open-ended questions. Students may complete and submit the survey all at once, or they can partially complete and later edit their responses prior to submission.

The survey is flexible, easy to navigate and uses the least number of 'clicks' possible. The interface is supported on multiple devices, including PC/Mac, Linux and Windows based tablets, portable devices and smartphones.

Survey responses are quick and easy to complete, and the entire survey takes only a few minutes to do.

View a sample of the survey questions (PDF, 466 KB).

When is it conducted?

The YourJCU Subject and Teaching Survey takes place towards the end of each Study Period. Please see the Survey Calendar (PDF, 100 KB) for full details.

Students are sent an email when the survey instrument is available for subjects they are enrolled in. Reminder emails are distributed during the survey for responses that have not been completed or submitted.

What do I need to do?

YourJCU Subject Survey

The YourJCU Subject Survey will run automatically for each subject offering.

YourJCU Teaching Survey

The YourJCU Teaching Survey will only run if you have opted to participate. Subject Coordinators are responsible for opting-in teaching staff for a teaching survey, and may also add 2 extra questions to the core subject questions.

Staff will be sent emails any time they are required to action a process, such as opting-in staff for a YourJCU Teaching Survey and adding additional questions (optional) to the survey. Please see the Survey Calendar (PDF, 100 KB) for survey timing. For extra help with opting-in, download the Quick Guide for Subject Coordinators (PDF, 892 KB).

Lecturers should contact their Subject Coordinator to ensure they are opted-in for a YourJCU Teaching Survey. Once opted-in, they then have the option of adding up to 3 extra questions to their Teaching Survey. For help, download the Quick Guide for Teaching Staff (PDF, 1226 KB).

Why is it held during the study period?

The survey is made available in accordance with JCU Student Experience of Learning and Teaching Policy and significant research and student survey benchmarking across Australia.

The survey period allows students to complete their feedback on subjects at a time that suits them, and provides flexibility to capture a statistically appropriate and representative response rate from a wide variety of subjects at JCU that have various teaching and assessment schedules (not all subjects have end of semester exams). Students also have the opportunity to save their survey responses and return at any time to alter or add to their feedback, up to the survey closing date.

The closing date for the surveys is set at 48 hours after the finish of the official exam period, so students can wait until after their exams to give feedback. However, generally, only 2-3% of responses are collected during this time.

What are the questions?

The survey asks students the extent to which they agree or disagree with a series of statements about their subjects and the teaching of those subjects. Several open-ended questions enable students to provide written feedback based on their learning and teaching experience.

Response key

  1. Strongly Disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither Disagree or Agree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly Agree

YourJCU Subject Survey

  1. The learning outcomes in this subject were made clear to me.
  2. The face-to-face/on-campus delivery methods (lectures, tutorials, practicals, fieldwork) used in this subject helped me understand the subject material
  3. The online delivery methods for learning activities used in this subject helped me understand the subject material
  4. This subject was well organised.
  5. The assessment activities helped me understand the subject material.
  6. I received timely feedback on my work in this subject.
  7. Overall, I was satisfied with this subject.
  8. What were the best aspects of this subject? (Open-ended)
  9. Are there any area(s) of this subject that could be improved? (Open-ended)

YourJCU Teaching Survey

  1. This staff member was approachable for support if I needed it.
  2. The teaching style of this staff member inspired me to learn.
  3. This staff member delivered subject material in ways that helped my learning.
  4. This staff member provided useful feedback to improve my learning.
  5. Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching of this staff member.
  6. What were the best aspects of this staff member’s teaching? (Open-ended)
  7. Are there any area(s) of this staff member’s teaching that could be improved? (Open-ended)

What is the difference between the subject survey and teaching survey?

YourJCU Subject Surveys automatically run for every undergraduate and postgraduate coursework subject offering, each study period.

YourJCU Teaching Surveys are optional. Subject coordinators have the ability to opt-in teaching staff for any undergraduate and postgraduate coursework subject offering.

The YourJCU Subject Survey contains 6 core quantitative questions about the subject, and 2 open-ended questions asking about students' perceptions of the best aspect of the subject, and areas that may need improvement.

The YourJCU Teaching Survey contains 5 core quantitative questions about the teaching quality within the subject, and 2 open-ended questions asking about students' perceptions of the best aspects of teaching, and areas that may need improvement.

What are adequate response rates?

To ensure reliability of findings, it is important that adequate response rates for individual YourJCU Subject and Teaching Surveys are met. The Nulty (2008)* liberal response rate criteria are a useful guide for determining whether adequate response rates have been met; these criteria are scaled to class size (i.e. small class sizes require greater response rates).

When considering results for very small class sizes, it may be important to focus on qualitative data and/or collect numerical data over several semesters.

*See Nulty, D.D. (2008) The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: what can be done? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301-314.

How can we improve response rates?

Strategies for promoting high survey response rates will be promoted to staff before and during the survey period, and include some of the following:

Staff involvement

Nothing helps more than regular reminders to students from teaching staff. To support this, staff can download a series of survey promotional slides (PPTX, 278 KB) for display during their lectures.

Students need to believe their responses will be considered. Staff can help achieve higher response rates when they, (a) regularly seek informal feedback, and then (b) tell students about what they have learned and how those insights are being used to improve the subject.

Staff can also help students understand how to give constructive criticism. A frequent lament of staff is that student evaluations are more a popularity contest than actual evaluations of teaching and learning. One reason for this is that students are rarely educated about constructive criticism. For ideas, view this Student Engagement and Feedback Framework (PDF, 888 KB).

Email reminders

Students will receive personalised weekly email reminders during the survey period. Reminders cease once a student completes their surveys.

Other initiatives

To support and improve survey response rates, the Directorate of Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement oversees these additional initiatives:

  • High web visibility, including LearnJCU, Students Online, a banner on the Current Students page and the JCU homepage rotating banner.
  • Student Mentors promote survey completion on campus in high student-traffic areas, enabling students to complete the survey on laptops in these areas. Mentors also provide laptop access at end of semester events, and work in collaboration with the JCU Student Association.
  • Placement of large, A-frame posters at the Townsville and Cairns refectories and libraries, as well as the coffee cart at the medical precinct in Townsville.
  • Regular communication with College heads and managers, distribution of flyers and posters.
  • A staggered communication strategy using social media (including Singapore and Brisbane), as well as the JCU ICT updates, @jcu, and weekly email reminders.
  • Promoting an incentive for completion.

Are student responses confidential?

To complete the survey, students must access the online survey via LearnJCU using their unique JCU username and password. All student data is secured and encrypted.

Student identification numbers are linked to the YourJCU surveys for three main reasons:

  1. To prevent any student from submitting more than one survey
  2. To enable in-depth analysis of findings for internal reporting, and
  3. To draw any incentives or prizes.

At no point will an individual student response be identified or linked within reports, statistics, qualitative comments or group demographic data.

To ensure student confidence in the fair and equitable use of their comments, reports will not be available to staff until after exam results are published for that study period.

Who sees the survey results?

Access to survey responses is governed by the JCU Student Experience of Learning and Teaching Policy. Survey results are not released until after examination results have been published each study period.

For full details view the Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) Distribution List.

How do I access reports?

Access these for your subjects via LearnJCU.

Click on the Tools Menu, and click the YourJCU Subject Report button to view your reports.

Is there an alternative, paper-based option?

The YourJCU Subject and Teaching Survey is conducted online only.

Why did JCU select eXplorance Blue?

Teaching quality is a core platform of the JCU University Plan. Responding to feedback on the student experience of learning and teaching is a key platform of JCU’s Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy. A robust and standardised evaluation of the student experience of learning and teaching is essential to improve course and subject design, inform staff development and support the academic promotion process. The policy to guide the use of teaching evaluation – the JCU Student Experience of Learning and Teaching Policy – focuses academic staff on the ways in which student feedback should guide course and subject improvement. Coupled with the Student Charter, the University now has a policy framework for engaging with student feedback on learning and teaching. Additionally, with the introduction of TEQSA, JCU will be required to provide high-quality data to support the attainment of both teaching and learning and provider standards. At this important juncture, JCU must have a robust survey instrument.

Benchmarking of all other Australian Universities shows 18 Universities are also utilising eXplorance Blue to conduct their Subject and Teaching Surveys. The duration of the surveys varies from three to six weeks (JCU). Most are conducted in the last few weeks of semester, with very few continuing into the exam period. The number of questions varies from 3 to 20. JCU has 6 subject questions and 5 teaching questions. Response rates vary between institutions, with institutions attaining higher (50%) response rates generally have a positive buy in from all levels of the institution (management, academic staff, and students).

The Student Feedback working group, led by the Directorate of Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement (LTSE), identified a number of priority issues surrounding staff and student engagement in the evaluation process. These include survey tools, data reporting and managerial use of student feedback. As part of a wider strategy to improve the student feedback process, JCU purchased a new online survey software (Blue by eXplorance), which is now being utilised by up to 8 other Australian universities.

In 2013, LTSE implemented a new YourJCU Subject and Teaching Survey, which replaced the Student Feedback about Subjects (SFS) and Student Feedback about Teaching (SFT) surveys. The YourJCU survey gives JCU a student evaluation system that is automated, flexible, user-friendly, and reflective of best practices in higher education. As part of a wider student feedback framework, LTSE recognises a sector-wide cultural change, accepting quality student feedback systems as a significant contributor to enhancing the student learning experience. Accessible on mobile devices, the online survey tool aligns to trends in students accessing ubiquitous technologies.