Resources for Students

Student End-of-Course Feedback: How and Why

As a student, you have a crucial perspective on teaching and learning at UBC, and your constructive feedback provides valuable information for instructors and the institution to enhance teaching and learning across UBC. One way you can do this is by filling out the student experience of instruction surveys for your courses.

Student Experience of Instruction surveys

University-wide, online Student Experience of Instruction (SEI) surveys are sent out by email to students for each course, often near the end of each term before the final exam period. These are confidential—your instructors cannot connect your responses to you. In addition, instructors cannot access the survey results until after they have submitted grades for the course (though they can tell what percentage of their students has filled out the survey).  

The SEI surveys have a common set of University Module Items (UMI) across courses on both campuses. These changed as of the Fall 2021 term, based on a mixed-methods process of evaluating the questions through focus groups with students and faculty, and pilot testing with students. UBC Okanagan previously had 19 UMIs and Vancouver had 6, but now SEI surveys on both campuses have the same set of 6 UMIs. These were created with significant student input, and have been designed to focus on your experiences in your courses.

  1. Throughout the term, the instructor explained course requirements so it was clear to me what I was expected to learn.
  2. The instructor conducted this course in such a way that I was motivated to learn.
  3. The instructor presented the course material in a way that I could understand.
  4. Considering the type of class (e.g., large lecture, seminar, studio, etc.), the instructor provided useful feedback that helped me understand how my learning progressed during this course.
  5. The instructor showed genuine interest in supporting my learning throughout this course.
  6. Overall, I learned a great deal from this instructor.

There are also three open-ended questions for written feedback:

  • Please identify what you consider to be the strengths of this course.
  • Please provide suggestions on how this course might be improved.  
  • Do you have any suggestions for what the instructor could have done differently to further support your learning?

Note that some of the survey questions may differ amongst your courses because Faculties and Departments can also add their own questions in addition to the UMI

Why you should fill out the SEI surveys

Your voice can make a difference! Student feedback on SEI surveys is used in the following ways:

  • Instructors often use your feedback to reflect on what went well and not so well in courses, and to make improvements for the future.
  • The SEI results are considered as part of reappointment, tenure, and promotion decisions for faculty.
  • SEI results are also used in applications and adjudications for some teaching awards, both at UBC and outside the institution.
  • Departments, Schools, and Faculties can access aggregate SEI data for courses across their units, to consider how students are reporting on their experiences in multiple courses across year level, terms, and areas.
  • SEI results may be used as part of reviews of departments or programs.

Now that you know how important it is to provide feedback, be sure to fill out the SEI surveys for your courses! Tell your friends as well: direct them to this resource and encourage them to also fill out the surveys.

Considerations for writing effective feedback

Just as some kinds of feedback are more effective for helping you improve your academic work, the same goes for feedback you give to instructors. Please review the points below to ensure your feedback can best be used to support instructors, future students, and teaching and learning more broadly at UBC.

Be respectful: Derogatory or discriminatory comments based on race, ancestry, age, place of origin, ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or religion are not acceptable. Comments about personal traits such as clothes or appearance are also not appropriate.

Be constructive, include the positive: Critical comments are important for supporting improvements where needed, and doing so in a constructive way is most effective. Provide specific reasons for your judgements about what needs improving and why, and offer suggestions on what might work better to support your learning. When offering critical feedback, consider the kind of feedback you would like to receive on your work, and avoid the kind that would be merely hurtful and not helpful for improvement. Be sure to also explain what the instructor did well, how their way of teaching or the structure of the course supported your learning. This is as important as constructive criticism, as it helps them consider what they should keep doing in the future.

Be specific: While general statements about the course or the methods of teaching can be useful, they are more so if you also provide specific examples of what went well or that you think could be improved. Focus on particular ways the instructor taught and explain carefully why they were or were not helpful for your learning. This will provide the instructor with specific information they could act on.

Be thoughtful: Don’t just rush through the survey; take some time and think about it, reflecting on the entire course. Taking the time to give thoughtful, constructive feedback will help improve the learning experience for future students.

SEI Surveys PDF Download

Security and the Online Student Experience of Instruction System

UBC uses an online system for the Student Experience of Instruction surveys. The system provides a secure mechanism for managing student evaluations of UBC courses, while maintaining the confidentiality of student responses as required by the UBC Vancouver Senate Policy on Student Evaluations of Teaching.

The centrally-supported application for these surveys is called Blue by Explorance, and it is hosted in Canada. Blue is integrated with UBC’s local authentication system, the campus-wide login (CWL). Secure access is granted to students enrolled in specific courses, and results provided to the appropriate instructors once the survey period is over and grades in the course have been submitted.

UBC’s Planning and Institutional Research office (PAIR) administers Blue in partnership with Faculty‐based administrators. Faculty‐level administrators manage access and data for their specific academic units, and PAIR administers the system as a whole.