Interpreting Feedback from the University's Student Feedback Questionnaire

Student Feedback Questionnaires (SFQ)

Instructors who are teaching face-to-face have the option of choosing between paper student feedback questionnaires or electronic student feedback questionnaires. Instructors who are who are teaching using a remote mode of delivery will use electronic student feedback questionnaires. Electronic student feedback questionnaires are delivered using the new Student Feedback Questionnaire System.

New Student Feedback Questionnaire System (SFQ)

The new Student Feedback Questionnaire system is being implemented by OpenEd who will provide operational support for instructors and student feedback coordinators.

The system provides the opportunity for feedback through three types of questions:

  • Standard Likert-scale questions included with all Feedback Questionnaires
  • Up to 9 additional optional questions from a question bank that the instructor can choose to include 
  • Written comments provided by the student


Interpreting Standard Questions

The report instructors receive will include the distribution of responses from the standard Likert-scale questions as shown below.

LIkert-scale student responses to the question "The course afforded me the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter". 13.5% of students strongly agreed with this statement, 59.5$ agreed, 18.9% neither agreed nor disagreed, 5.4% disagreed, and 2.7% strongly disagreed.

In this report the means (averages) are intentionally not provided. This practice will help reduce the emphasis on statistics that are easily compared without context. A more useful approach is to examine the distributions of responses, and reflect on the overall spread of responses, and which scale points have the greatest / least number of responses. Consider the following questions to reflect on:

  • For each question, is there an overall consensus among students?
  • Are there large differences in opinion within particular questions, or across questions?
  • Do the responses, or the patterns of responses, vary a lot between questions?
  • Is the response pattern similar or different when comparing the course and the instructor categories?


Additional Optional Questions

The SFQ system provides instructors with the option to personalize the questionnaire by adding up to 9 additional questions chosen from an existing question bank that includes many Likert-scale questions and several written response questions.

The choice of which additional questions to include is dependent on the specific context of your course.  Consider what feedback and information from students would be most useful and meaningful for you, and what aspects of the course you would like additional insight into. For example, do you want to know more about how the students perceive the content? Do you want feedback on your instructional style? If you have solicited feedback earlier in the course, now is an opportunity to see the impact of any changes made.

Please note that student responses to these personalized questions are only available to the instructor, and are never included in reports to Chairs (see OpenEd’s Question Personalization website for more information).


Interpreting Written Comments

Written feedback is often the most useful for teaching improvement as it provides more depth and context than Likert-scale style questions offer. Written comments can often clarify and illuminate patterns that you may have noticed in the standard questions, providing insight into what worked well and what challenges students encountered in their learning and course experience. As you go through the feedback consider the following:

  • What themes emerge? Are there any patterns or trends?
  • What do students identify as beneficial, valuable, supportive, or effective? What do students identify as issues or challenges?
  • How do students' responses to the standard set of Likert-scale questions align with the written comments?
  • How does the course context (required/optional, class size) affect students' perceptions of the course and feedback?


Getting a Second Opinion

Sometimes it can be difficult to step outside of the instructor role and view student feedback objectively. A good practice is to discuss the feedback with a trusted colleague who can provide a different lens to help interpret the comments. Educational Developers in the Office of Teaching and Learning also offer consultations with instructors who wish to discuss their feedback and how this feedback might inform changes to the course.


Contact Us


E-mail the Office of Teaching and Learning ( with any questions related to your teaching and learning needs.