For many teachers, the most important source of feedback about their teaching practice is their students. Knowing how their students feel about how they are taught and supported in their classes and at school can help teachers develop stronger relationships with their students, set goals, and measure progress towards those goals. Student surveys about teaching give teachers the feedback they need to strengthen their practice.
At Panorama, we believe that student voice has a critical role to play in helping schools improve. We work with thousands of schools to measure, understand, and act on student feedback about teaching. In this post, we explain why collecting student perceptions of teaching and learning matters for educators and administrators, and how you can use this feedback to help teachers improve their practices.
Introduction to Student Surveys
Teaching effectiveness has many components, ranging from the quality of instruction offered to the kind of classroom climate that a teacher creates. In general, a few qualities have been identified as especially important for teachers:
- Understanding of the subject matter they teach
- Capacity to build strong relationships with students
- Ability to manage, engage, and challenge students
- Strength of instructional practice
While teachers will have their own vision for what success in the classroom looks like, learning from the strengths of other successful teachers – and continuing to learn from students about how they want to be taught – will help teachers continue to grow as educators. For administrators, knowing how their students as a whole feel about teaching and learning in the school or district can help with planning and developing professional learning opportunities for teachers, as well as creating programs and resources to support students.
What the research about student surveys says
In 2012, the MET (Measures of Effective Teaching) Project released a series of findings about how best to measure teaching effectiveness. One of the three ways the project identified as accurately measuring teaching effectiveness was student surveys about teachers.
Since then, additional research has indicated that student surveys can also predict student outcomes in a variety of academic subjects. Student surveys about teaching and learning are currently used in dozens of states to help teachers learn about and reflect on their practices and their students’ experiences in school.
Getting feedback with student surveys about teaching
While peer observations and teachers’ own self-evaluations can be useful ways for teachers to develop their practices, student surveys can play a critical role in helping teachers experiment, set new goals, and reflect on what is working in their classroom.
We developed the Panorama Student Survey to help teachers gather feedback from their students, understand what their students are experiencing, and act on that feedback. The Panorama Student Survey gathers feedback in each of the areas listed above, plus several others, to provide teachers with a holistic view of their practice as seen by their students.
"The surveys have been transformational in how I operate. I’ve grown tremendously from this data."
Leila Campbell - Teacher - Aspire Public Schools (CA)
Choosing your student survey questions
Based on the elements of teaching effectiveness outlined above, we’ve highlighted a selection of student survey questions from the Panorama Student Survey that can help teachers better understand their students’ experiences in the classroom.
Perceptions of the quality of teaching and amount of learning students experience from a particular teacher.
- How much does this teacher know about the topic or his/her class?
- During class, how good is this teacher at making sure students do not get out of control?
How attentive and invested students are in class.
- How excited are you about going to this class?
- In this class, how eager are you to participate?
How much students feel that a specific teacher holds them to high expectations around effort, understanding, persistence, and performance in class.
- How much does this teacher encourage you to do your best?
- How often does this teacher take time to make sure you understand the material?
How strong the social connection is between teachers and students within and beyond the classroom.
- How respectful is this teacher towards you?
- If you walked into class upset, how concerned would your teacher be?
Next steps: resources for action
Using student surveys to collect feedback about teaching effectiveness in your school or district will help you understand how best to support your teachers and students. Student surveys can provide teachers and students with opportunities to have important conversations about what they can both do to strengthen relationships and improve student outcomes.
From our work with schools and districts around the country, we’ve produced numerous resources to help you facilitate this learning and engagement between students and teachers. Download the Panorama Student Survey or view our library of student survey templates to gain access to our full set of survey topics and questions.