An investigation was conducted into 3- or 4-year departmental sets of student feedback questionnaire data from one university. Only four out of 25 departments had signi. cant changes to any of the six dimensions in the 3- or 4-year period, and three of these signi. cant changes were falls. There is, therefore, no evidence that the use of the questionnaire was making any contribution to improving the overall quality of teaching and learning of the departments, at least as perceived by the students. If it was, there should have been evidence of rising values. The following reasons why the use of the questionnaire might not have been conducive to improving teaching quality are discussed. The possibility that teaching quality is inherently stable is rejected. It is possible that feedback from the questionnaire was not used effectively. Related to this is whether instructors perceived that the university rewarded good teaching, so felt there was an incentive to make use of the feedback. The emphasis of the system was on appraisal, which might negate any developmental effect. The standard questionnaire and the associated procedures may have lacked flexibility and been inappropriate for innovative forms of teaching. The study questions whether student feedback questionnaires are utilising resources effectively if they are administered in an environment similar to the university in question, which appears reasonably typical. © 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
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