Direct student feedback

Luke Fryer, Kyushu Sangyo University


Quick guide

  • Keywords:Class evaluation, student feedback, instructional development
  • Learner English level:Any
  • Learner maturity:High school and above
  • Preparation time:5 minutes
  • Activity time:15-45 minutes (depending on class size and procedure)
  • Materials:Paper (roughly 10 cm2) for each student, and pencils


Student evaluation of classroom instruction is agreed upon as being fundamental for institutional, departmental, and individual teacher development(Marsh, 1987, 2007). Students have consistently been found to be valid evaluators of instruction (Marsh, 1987, 2007). However, both class and institutional evaluation methods at many Japanese tertiary institutions are relatively new and often underdeveloped (Reiko, 2001; Yonezawa, 2002). English conversation classes, due to their comparatively small size (20-40 students), are ideal for more direct mechanisms of feedback. The following is one method several university instructors have found useful in the absence of other standard means of obtaining quality student feedback.


Cut up some blank white paper into sheets of roughly 10 square centimeters. Either in the middle of the semester or at the end (or both), explain to your students the necessity of their feedback for the improvement of the class, both for them and future students. Explain that you would like to know what they think of your class.


Step 1:Hand out the sheets of paper. Tell the students not to write their names on them. Ask them to first label one side “Bad” and the other “Good.” Then ask them to briefly write the aspects of the class that they like and would like to see more of on one side, and the aspects they dislike on the other side. Depending on the students’ English proficiencythey may need to be permitted to write in Japanese.

Step 2: Have one or more students collect the sheets of paper and randomize them. Then, depending on your Japanese speaking and reading proficiency, you can: (1) take them home,read them,and respond to the comments during the following class, or (2)read them out loud on-the-spot and comment on the student remarks,or (3) have a student read them out loud to the class and then you comment after each student remark. If you do not intend to read them again later, take notes to ensure you follow up.


Although the immediacy of responding to feedback in class in “one-shot” can be intimidating, students appreciate it when teachers are open to interaction regarding classroom instruction (Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983). The anonymity and open-ended nature of the “good” and “bad” survey provides students with the freedom and opportunity to express many frustrations and concerns that would otherwise go unheard. Besides providing a forum for students’ frustrations and concerns, teachers can also ascertain, directly from students, what aspects of their instruction have really worked and should be included more often. Following up on the students’ feedback, even in very small ways, is noticed and appreciated by students.Finally, although the activity has been presented here as a means of obtaining feedback about a class in general, it might also be used to evaluate a specific aspect of class, or a class activity.


Entwistle, N., & Ramsden, P. (1983). Understanding Student Learning. London: Croom Helm.

Marsh, H. W. (1987). Students'evaluations of university teaching: Research findings, methodological issues, and directions for future research. International Journal of Educational Research, 11(3), 253-388.

Marsh, H. W. (2007). Students' evaluations of university teaching: A multidimensional perspective. In R. P. S. Perry, J. C. (Ed.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: An evidence-based perspective (pp. 319-384). New York: Springer.

Reiko, Y. (2001). University reform in the post-massification era in Japan: Analysis of government education policy for 21st century. Higher Education Policy,14, 277-291.

Yonezawa, A. (2002). The quality assurance system and market forces in Japanese higher education. Higher Education, 43(1), 127-139.