Student Questionnaire

Student Evaluation Questionnaire
The Student Evaluation Questionnaire gives each student the opportunity to comment on their own experience of being a learner in that course. Students are also able to comment about courses through focus groups and attendance at various committee meetings (e.g. School Staff-student committee).

The Student Evaluation Questionnaire comprises a series of questions asking for students' opinions about various aspects of a course or attachment. A generic questionnaire is used for years 2 and 3 and another one for years 4 and 5. (Each School is currently using its own questionnaire for year 6 evaluations but a generic questionnaire is planned.)

The year 2 and 3 version has approximately 19 closed questions with rating scales and four open-ended questions to allow for written comments. The year 4 and 5 version contains 23 questions including three that are specifically related to the clinical aspects of any attachment and three open-ended questions. In both cases, Course Convenors may choose to add a few questions if they wish to evaluate students' experiences of a specific part of the course or a particular innovation (for example, a professional development tutorial within a clinical attachment).

At present, courses which run for an entire academic year are evaluated using the "Student Questionnaire for Evaluating a Course" managed by HEDC. Details are provided in the document "Guidelines for the Evaluation of Teaching" available from HEDC or via

In Dunedin, a questionnaire has been developed aimed at evaluating students' experiences of the Threads that run across the whole curriculum. This questionnaire was tested in 2003 and may be adapted for use across all Schools in the future. Integrative weeks are evaluated using a set of general questions and students' comments.

The procedure for collection, analysis and feedback of student questionnaire data is described in the following sections.

Administration of Student Evaluations
The Medical Education Adviser in each school is responsible for coordinating the course evaluation process for each year.

Purpose and frequency of evaluation

Before the beginning of the year a decision is taken by the Medical Education Group, in discussion with the Director of Educational Development and Support regarding the generic purpose of the evaluation and the nature and the frequency of evaluations required. A decision is taken regarding whether the student evaluation questionnaire is required or a different mode is more advantageous.

Specific module / attachment evaluations
Before the beginning of the academic year the Medical Education Adviser contacts module and course convenors (often performed in association with the curriculum committees) in relation to the following:
  • The proposed dates of questionnaire distribution during the coming year
  • Request for information regarding any changes to the course or module that might require more detailed evaluation
  • If extra questions have been included, a sample of the existing questionnaire and a request for any information regarding changes to additional questions (for example, if an evaluated specialist tutorial is not to be run during the modules, specific questions about that tutorial should be removed from the questionnaire).
  • Information about the availability of other methods for of evaluating courses (e.g. focus groups, peer review, etc).

Using information supplied by Course Convenors, questionnaires are ordered from HEDC. These are returned to the Medical Education Adviser for distribution to the students at the agreed times.

Alternative forms of evaluation are carried out at the request of individual course convenors or the students and in collaboration with the Medical Education Adviser. Sometimes these evaluations are undertaken on an unofficial basis and can result in negative outcomes for students and staff. If you have any queries or are considering undertaking a course evaluation please contact the Medical Education Adviser.

Frequency of questionnaire distribution
The Medical Education Advisers in collaboration with Course Convenors decide the frequency of questionnaire distribution. In the second and third years, courses are evaluated once every two years. In fourth and fifth years, where students rotate through a series of attachments, about half of all attachments / run are evaluated each year. So, each attachment is evaluated yearly by about half the students. In the sixth year, obtaining responses from students has been less straightforward. A number of methods for distribution have been tried but a different approach will be required for future years.

When a particular course or module has undergone major revision, has received particularly poor feedback from students or has been taken over by a new convenor, evaluations may be carried out more frequently at the discretion of the Module Convenor and the Medical Education Adviser.

Distribution of questionnaires
There are a number of ways in which questionnaires can be distributed:
  • The Medical Education Adviser visits the group when they are being taught together (by arrangement with the teacher at that time). Questionnaires are handed out at the end of a teaching session and students complete them and return them directly to the Medical Education Adviser. This method tends to yield the highest response rates.
  • The Medical Education Adviser gives the questionnaires to the Course Convenors and they arrange for questionnaire distribution within their own student group. This method relies on the commitment of individual staff members to evaluation and to distributing the questionnaires in the appropriate manner (NB HEDC provides detailed instructions about this process).
  • The Medical Education Adviser distributes questionnaires directly to the students via pigeonholes or class representatives. Where possible the attachment administrators are involved in the process. This method has been effective for the Trainee Intern year.
  • Questionnaires are distributed as soon as possible after the end of a course or module and, ideally, are not distributed directly after an assessment.
Once completed, questionnaires are returned to HEDC for processing. The ratings are entered  and a summary print out of the response frequencies and interpolated medians for each question is created. This is returned to the Medical Education Adviser along with the original questionnaires containing the students' comments.

The Medical Education Adviser types up the students' comments. Comments with an extremely negative flavour that mention a particular teacher by name are edited to preserve the teacher's identity. If a significant number of comments are made about a single teacher the Medical Education Adviser will approach the Course Convenor to discuss whether any intervention is needed. Positive comments are transcribed verbatim.

Reports in the form of copies of the summary statistics plus the written comments are sent to each course convenor along with a letter inviting the course convenor to contact the Medical Education Adviser to discuss any issues raised by the evaluation questionnaires.