The Subject Experience Survey (SES) seeks students’ perceptions of their learning experiences in subjects taught at the University of Melbourne. Approved by the Academic Board, this instrument assists in the continuous quality improvement process for subjects.
The survey is anonymous and completed online, and allows students to respond to specific questions as well as provide general feedback on each of their subjects, towards the end of teaching and before their final assessment.
The SES has two major purposes
- To offer students the opportunity to provide feedback on their learning, with the aim of improving the quality of subject offerings and teaching
- At department, faculty and institutional level, to monitor the quality of the University's subject and course offerings and student learning.
Survey results are used in a number of ways
- By subject co-ordinators or other teaching staff responsible for a subject, to monitor the student experience and to understand what students perceive as subject strengths and weaknesses
- By department heads and deans to monitor the quality of subjects offered through their departments and faculties, giving them the opportunity to take action to remedy a problem or congratulate those associated with high 'performing' subjects, and also to ensure students are given feedback on survey outcomes
- At University level, to monitor the overall quality of teaching and learning.
In 2011, the SES replaced the former Quality of Teaching (QoT) survey. Although similar to the QoT, the SES places a stronger focus on students' learning experiences. The move to online survey delivery also improves the survey's efficiency, and makes it easier for students to provide more detailed subject feedback.
Dates of major survey periods
The major surveying period for the SES is scheduled at the end of each semester. If your subject follows a standard semester-based timeline, it is likely that your survey will be available during this time.
Governance & management
The Academic Board at the University of Melbourne has approved the use of the Subject Experience Survey with support and administration provided by multiple divisions.
Policy & guidelines
The Subject Experience Survey is governed by policy and procedures approved by Academic Board, and supported by operational guidelines available for download here.
Survey questions & structure
Questions on the Subject Experience Survey focus on students’ experiences of learning in subjects. The standard and additional questions are documented here.
Terms and conditions of entry for the SES prize draw.
Getting started with the SES: a practical overview
This page focuses on the practical processes and expectations of the Subject Experience Survey. Refer to other areas of the website to find out more about the survey and its purpose, and the survey questions and structure.
The Subject Experience Survey plays an important role in the University’s quality improvement processes for teaching and subject development. The SES performs this role most effectively when staff engage with and support the surveys.
Below is an overview of the staff roles in the surveying cycle, and some key information to help you become familiar with SES processes and expectations. This information should be used as a starting point only: all staff members involved in the SES surveying cycle are expected to be familiar with SES policy and procedures.
Subjects which require surveying with the SES
Your subject should be surveyed with the SES:
- Whether it is an undergraduate or a graduate subject
- Whether it is a semester-length subject or an intensive subject
- Towards the end of teaching, each time the subject is taught.
If there are fewer than four enrolments, your subject will be exempt.
Academic Board’s Teaching and Learning Quality Assurance Committee
In 2016 and 2017, TALQAC formed two working groups to examine (i) how to provide effective feedback and (ii) reasons for students’ disengagement with their courses and with the university. The Improving Student Engagement Working Group was established in response to committee members’ concerns about findings from the 2015 Student Experience Survey.
Below are documents from the forum that was held on the 20th of April 2018. Further information and resources can be found on the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (Melbourne CSHE) website.
- Teaching and Learning Strategies to Improve Student Engagement - Download PDF
- Feedback: Managing Scale & Expectations - Download PDF
- End of Subject Assessment Tasks and Feedback Opportunities - Download PDF
Teaching & department staff involvement in the surveying process
The following steps summarise the main areas of staff involvement in the Subject Experience Survey. Time lines for these tasks may vary within faculties: contact your faculty SES representative for more information.
1. Confirm your subject's surveying dates and requirements with your Faculty SES Representative
Your faculty maintains a 'Survey Schedule', containing details of subjects which require surveying, and the dates on which they are to be surveyed. For standard Semester 1 and Semester 2 subjects, surveys are typically conducted in Weeks 11, 12 and swotvac, however these dates are affected by factors such as teaching and assessment dates. Department and teaching staff may be asked to submit information about their subjects' surveying requirements, and it is important that these details are scheduled well before your survey is due to open.
2. Promote the SES to students during (and in the lead up to) the survey period
Teaching and department staff play a critical role in encouraging students to complete the Subject Experience Survey: your endorsement of the survey will help to ensure high response rates. Visit the survey promotion page for SES promo posters to help you promote the Subject Experience Survey to students.
In addition to your endorsement of the survey to your own students, widespread survey promotion is conducted during standard survey periods (Weeks 11, 12 and swotvac), so faculties are encouraged to survey in this period wherever appropriate.
3. Optional: Schedule classtime for students to complete the Subject Experience Survey
Teaching staff may choose to provide students with the opportunity to complete the SES in class, where computers or mobile devices are available. Provision of this option may have a positive effect on response rates, while still allowing students the flexibility to give feedback in their own time if they prefer. When the SES is completed in class the teaching staff member should leave the classroom while the survey is being completed.
4. Receive & review survey results, and act upon feedback as appropriate
Survey results are available to faculties after surveys close, and once subject results have been released to students, these results can be made available to teaching staff according to faculty processes, and in line with SES policy and procedures.
5. Communicate survey feedback to students
An important part of the surveying cycle is to ensure students are given feedback on survey outcomes, and actions taken as a result of survey outcomes. Departments should implement processes to ensure students receive feedback about the outcomes of the SES in their subjects, and guidelines on providing feedback to students state that this should be achieved via the LMS. Visit the survey results page for more information on how to provide feedback to students.
For specific questions about administration of the SES in your faculty, contact your faculty SES representative.
How to complete the SES
All you need to complete the SES is access to the internet on a computer or mobile device, and a few spare minutes to share your experiences.
When you have been notified that a survey is available to you, follow the simple instructions below.
Visit the survey site on your computer or mobile device
- Login to the SES at https://ses.unimelb.edu.au
- You can also follow the link in your SES notification email.
Login with your University username and password
Click on a survey title to begin
- A list of all surveys available to you will be displayed. 'Open' surveys are available for you to complete. Click on the heading "Complete the questionnaire on (subject name and code)" to begin completing a survey.
Complete the survey
- A new tab will open with the survey for that subject
Complete the questions shown, clicking ‘Next’ to view subsequent screens
- Make sure that your responses relate to the subject listed at the top of the survey, and that you correctly use the 'Strongly Disagree' > 'Strongly Agree' scale.
- A new tab will open with the survey for that subject
Click on 'Submit' to finish
- On the last screen click on ‘Submit’ to complete your survey. To return and complete a survey later, click on ‘Save’ at any time
- Changes cannot be made after you press 'Submit', so check your response first.