Improving student feedback with Big Data

A private Australian university is using analytics to better understand the massive amounts of student feedback collected by faculty members every semester.

Analytics tools could also save time for educators.

Officials at Bond University, a private institution in Queensland, Australia, announced in October that the school would use an advanced analytics tool to sift through student evaluation forms and determine the most pressing issues among the campus population.

The university is using a tool called EvaluationKIT, an online system designed to provide better, more accurate insight into how to improve college courses.

Faculty can select questions placed on a student evaluation form and ask EvaluationKIT to summarize the comments.The analytics tool lets educators identify important themes in the evaluation forms, instead of shuffling through dozens or hundreds of forms in search of a common theme.

It’s just the latest way in which higher education is using the analyzing of Big Data to make use of reams of information that was for years was not digestible, or useful.

“Qualitative feedback from students is extremely useful in identifying common thoughts and viewpoints across large numbers of students,” said Shelley Kinash, associate professor and director of learning and teaching at Bond University. “Using EvaluationKIT Text Analytics, our student feedback data has become so much more powerful and meaningful. The students are the stakeholders who are best placed to evaluate the quality of their education.”

Kinash said analyzing student evaluations is beneficial fore more than just the faculty charged with teaching the course.

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