Amplifying the Student Voice: The Student Feedback Network Project

Image credit: Poster created by Student Feedback Network Project (SFNP)

In this post, Boryana and Tomris highlight the activities and aspirations of Student Feedback Network Project (SFNP) in amplifying the student voice through collection and utilisation of student feedback across the University. Boryana is a fourth-year History student and Tomris is a fourth-year Law and Economics LLB student. This post is part of the Learning & Teaching Enhancement Theme: Student Voice.

The concept of ‘student voice’ is crucial to recognise that the University of Edinburgh students, themselves are key stakeholders in shaping their learning and teaching experience.  Students give feedback through various channels to voice their concerns, opinions and comments. Amplifying our students’ voices is essential to create a more inclusive, effective and responsive educational system. By gathering and utilising student feedback, educators can tailor their teaching practices and learning environments to better meet the diverse needs of their students. By valuing and incorporating student perspectives, we can foster a culture of continuous improvement, collaboration, and shared responsibility for academic success.

Current feedback processes at the University face numerous challenges. From our discussion with students, we have identified that they are often motivated to have a say and make a difference in their academic life. However, current feedback mechanisms – oftentimes online surveys with low response rates – do not encourage them to do so.

The Student Feedback Network Project (SFNP), funded by the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme (PTAS), aims to address the above-mentioned challenges faced by students. The SFNP is a partnership that is co-led by staff and students. It aims to produce a toolkit that can support the effective collection and implementation of student feedback in Schools across the University.

Since September 2022, the SFNP has hosted focus groups with students and interviewed staff from 12 Schools across the University. Focus group participants were selected from diverse backgrounds and marginalised groups to represent the actual student population and ensure inclusivity. In focus groups, our student interns have led discussion with peers about their personal experiences in giving feedback to the University. They have also interviewed staff members – both academic and professional services – who are actively engaged in innovating student feedback mechanisms. These interviews have helped us elaborate staff perspectives on the challenges and possibilities of student feedback. We propose that these suggested innovations, which involve the strategic implementation of University feedback policies both inside and outside the classroom, warrant a much closer look.

Findings have differed significantly across the Schools we have engaged with. While certain schools reported to have excellent student feedback mechanisms in place, others were struggling with low response rates and the resulting minimal impact of student feedback on their learning and teaching.

We are aiming to publish the toolkit resulting from the SFNP in the upcoming academic year.  We hope that any recommendations arising from the project would be implemented by staff across the University to improve current feedback processes and student engagement with them.

photo of author 1Boryana Ivanova

Boryana is a fourth-year History student, with interests in amplifying the student voice, and more broadly, equality, diversity, and inclusion. She is currently an intern with the Student Feedback Network Project, as well as an established student representative of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Widening Participation Network. She is also co-founder of Tackling Elitism, an Edinburgh-based student grassroots group which focuses on amplifying the voices of students from Widening Participation backgrounds.

photo of author 2Tomris Guluzade

Tomris is a fourth-year Law and Economics LLB student. She is an aspiring solicitor who is interested in fostering equality, diversity, and inclusion within the student community and beyond. She is currently an intern with the Student Feedback Network Project. She has been student representative for the School of Economics and Course Liaison for Advance Legal Writing and Commercial Law courses. She is treasurer of the Hoppers Society which aims to support female, non-binary, and transgender Informatics students at the University. To empower women in her home country of Azerbaijan, she explored the importance of childcare and breastfeeding support for women’s careers, and local attitudes towards breastfeeding, together with the Clinton Global University Initiative.

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