Using Student Assessment Teams and Student Focus Groups to Improve Course Evaluation

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 11-17-2022


The Lincoln Memorial University’s DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) Office of Academic Assessment (OAA) utilizes student assessment teams (SAT) and student focus groups (SFG) for course evaluation (CE) after attempts to refine the former course evaluation survey process continued to yield ambiguous course data. According to Field (2020), enhanced opportunity for gathering data also brings danger of over-use, and with it, the onset of survey fatigue. The ubiquitous use of course evaluation surveys can impact students’ survey fatigue and data samples suffer from low response rates (Field, 2020). Mary Bolton, Director of Examination Services at LMU-DCOM from 2007-present, said assessment professionals initially assessed courses using a standard post-course electronic survey issued via the learning management system. The evaluation was used for gathering feedback on the course as a whole and the team of faculty and guest speakers teaching the courses. Quantitative Likert data and numerous pages of open-ended responses including not applicable or other less meaningful responses made up the course evaluation reports (M. Bolton, personal communication, March 8, 2022). Faculty struggled to identify meaningful improvements and students had minimal input to identify needed course or teaching improvements. Serving on SATs and SFGs, students gather opinions of their peers, author a professional report including suggestions for improvement, and present report findings to course directors or clinical deans. Using these students led teams and focus groups at LMU-DCOM has improved the evaluation process, but more importantly, has led to improved quality of instruction.