SES response patterns

Student Experience Survey Response Patterns 

This supplementary report analyzes Student Experience Survey (SES)responses from Fall 2019 – Fall 2021 to highlight which teaching practices are most commonly commented on. This analysis includes 219,869 student comments about specific teaching practices. This report makes observations based on the frequency of student comments about individual teaching practices but does not make any use of the textual data itself. Instead, readers can learn about the content of student responses from the collection of Academic Data Analytics Practitioner Guides that summarize common themes in student comments for a specific teaching practice. For example, read the Inclusiveness Practitioner Guide to understand how UO students describe inclusive teaching.  

The dashboard below highlights differences in student responses by student gender, academic year, class size, class type, and by UO school or college. Use the tabs and filters to navigate between different views and read a short discussion below.  


Responses by Student Demographics 

The SES is an anonymous survey which limits our understanding of how identity impacts student perceptions of different teaching practices. However, the survey does link student responses to demographic data about student academic level and gender.  

Academic level  Student SEX Courses Comments
Graduate  Female  2,277  12,653 
  Male  1,780  7,964 
Undergraduate  Female  10,481  126,574 
  Male  8,832  71,371 

Compared to graduate students, undergraduates are less likely to write comments about active learning and the relevance as beneficial teaching practices, and more likely to write comments about organization and clarity of instructions as beneficial teaching practices. The effects of student gender on response patterns are minimal. Female students are slightly more likely to comment that active learning is beneficial, and slightly more likely to comment that Assignments & projects, and Clarity of instructions need improvement. 


Responses by Class Size  

Active learning, feedback, student interactions, support from the instructor are much less likely to be commented as beneficial in larger classes than in smaller classes. Conversely, clarity of instructions, Instructor communication, organization, accessibility, quality of materials, and course relevance are more likely to be commented as beneficial teaching practices in large classes than in smaller classes.  

For comments about which practices are most in need of improvement, students in larger courses select active learning, feedback, level of challenge, quality of materials, student interactions, and support from the instructor as more often compared to smaller courses. Small courses are most likely to have “none of these elements” needing improvements, but are more likely to have organization selected as needing improvement comparted to larger courses.  

Taken together, class size strongly impacts the practices students perceive as most to support their learning. Comparatively, students in smaller classes identify support from the instructor, feedback and active learning as the most beneficial teaching practices and comment that organization and clarity of instructions are most in need of improvement. Students in large classes identify quality of materials, organization, and clarity of instructions as the most beneficial practices and comment that student interaction, active learning and level of challenge are most in need of improvement.

Course Enrollment Courses Comments 
0-10 students  1,743  7,337 
11-20 students  5,318  43,575 
21-50 students  5,900  81,280 
51-100 students  1,191  33,239
101-200 students  626  33,575 
 200 + students  220  20,863 


Responses by class type 

The majority of student feedback comes from lecture sections of classes. Lectures, Lab, and Discussion sections receive similar patterns of comments for most teaching practices. However, Labs and Discussions receive more comments about feedback and support from the instructor being beneficial, and fewer comments about organization, quality of materials, and relevance being beneficial.  

Relative to Lecture sections, Online course sections are more likely to receive “beneficial for my learning” comments about accessibility, clarity of instructions, and organization and less likely to receive “beneficial” comments about active learning, student interactions, and support from the instructor. Online courses are more likely to receive student comments that student interaction and feedback need improvement to improve student learning.  

Class Type Courses Comments
Lecture 7,023 145,449
Laboratory 1,866 15,749
Discussion 2,714 22,601
Online 1,060 23,001


Responses by School/Division 

The overall pattern of student responses by teaching practice are largely similar between UO Schools and Colleges. However, different schools or colleges stand out in specific areas, for example, CAS Humanities, the Honors College, and SoMD courses are more likely to receive comments about feedback being beneficial. The Law school and CAS Social Science courses are more likely to receive comments about quality of materials being beneficial for student learning. The Honors College stands out in relative the high frequency of comments about student interactions being beneficial and in the frequency of comments about clarity of instructions needing improvement.  

School/Division Courses Comments
Business, Lundquist College of 1,077 22,978
CAS Humanities 3,116 34,181
CAS Natural Science 3,848 56,053
CAS Social Science 2,366 40,801
Design, College of 1,471 15,478
Education, College of 763 13,606
Honors College 366 4,143
Journalism and Communication 768 16,159
Law, School of 106 1,929
Music and Dance, School of 846 8,444

Impact of COVID on student responses

The shift in teaching and the challenges of the COVID pandemic influenced student responses to the SES. The SES was launched in Fall of 2019 but was on pause during Spring 2020 due to the pandemic. Of the seven terms of SES data included in this analysis, classes during the four terms of the 2020-21 academic year were significantly impacted by the shift to remote teaching. Comparing the frequency of student comments between the 2019 and 2020 academic years gives a rough estimate of how student feedback changed in the SES during COVID. 

Among the teaching practices that students comment on as most beneficial, Active learning saw the largest decline in comments during AY2020, likely a result of the move to remote and online courses. Support from the instructor, Organization, Quality of materials, and Feedback all received more comments about their benefits during AY2020 compared to other years. For comments about teaching practice in need of improvement, Student interactions was the only practice that received substantially more comments during COVID and remote-teaching impacted terms. 


Comment Length by Question

On average, students leave longer comments about teaching practices “in need of improvement”. The only exceptions are comments about how “none of these elements are beneficial” which receive very long responses, and comments about how “none of these elements are in need of improvement” which receives very short comments.

Teaching Practice  "Beneficial" Comments "In Need of Improvement" Comments
Accessibility 16.6 (17) 30.4 (30.8)
Active Learning 20.3 (17.5) 26.8 (30.3)
Assignments & Projects 21.2 (20.3) 33.1 (35.9)
Clarity of Instructions 17.3 (13.8) 28.7 (29.2)
Feedback 19.1 (15.3) 25.4 (26.8)
Inclusiveness 14.8 (16.1) 23.3 (40.8)
Instructor Communication 21.3 (19.4) 31.7 (38.2)
Level of Challenge 20.3 (19) 30.4 (34)
None of these elements 32.5 (50.5) 13.7 (15.7)
Organization 19.8 (16.8) 34.8 (38.7)
Quality of Materials 18.6 (17.3) 30 (35.6)
Relevance 20.2 (16.1) 31.2 (35.5)
Student Interactions 20.2 (16.1) 25.4 (24.1)
Support from the Instructor 21.8 (19.4) 31.3 (43.4)

Average word count (Standard Deviation) for beneficial and in need of improvement comments for each teaching practice