Student Voice Matters

At IDEA, we have a philosophy that Student Voice Matters. It is a belief shared by our client partners and those dedicated to a holistic view of learning in higher education.  

In order to get a complete picture of instruction, we insist that students’ voices be heard as they spend more time observing faculty than anyone else on campus. In order to get a complete view of advising programs, we need their feedback on what works and what doesn't.  Student feedback strengthens our teaching, our advising, our programs, and our campuses - it is indisputable.

But to do it right, we need to ask better questions to get better answers.  We need to offer support and advice with research to support this philosophy.

Below you will find a sampling of this support - from articles in the press, to research, to blog postings.  We hope you find it informative and reflective of IDEA and it's mission.

If you have questions or want to take a look at a topic in greater detail, please let us know, we welcome the opportunity.

Ken Ryalls, President



IDEA Research Digest

IDEA Papers

The entire IDEA Paper Series can be found here.

Research Reports

    IDEA staff and client partners have posted pieces on the over the years, providing valuable insight on the importance of student feedback and how to manage the process (and expectations.)  Here is a sampling:

"Sharing how and why we use student feedback to develop teaching practice is a meaningful way to encourage students not to merely go through the motions, but to take the time to make thoughtful comments about their learning experience, comments that will be helpful and actionable."  Teaching Students to Give Useful Qualitative Feedback by Guest Blogger Dr. Ellen J. Zeman, Learning Assessment Director, Champlain College


In a 2016 webinar, IDEA President, Dr. Ken Ryalls, and IDEA Senior Research Officer, Dr. Steve Benton, responded to some common misconceptions of student ratings and took a deeper look at the hot button topic—bias. Myths and Misconceptions of Student Ratings: Gender Bias and More  (view the webinar in its entirety here.)


"At IDEA, we believe that creating value for student feedback is the most essential factor to elicit good response rates. Research and best practice consistently show the single greatest influence on increasing participation in student ratings surveys is for faculty to express and demonstrate how the results are important and used in making meaningful change." The Value of Student Feedback (Regardless of Response Rates)


"To point out bias in a rating given by a human and use it to negate the usefulness of that rating is absurd. The question then is not “Is there bias in this tool?” but “Can we find usefulness in these data in spite of the bias inherent in humans?” The answer to this question is yes, provided the survey instrument is well designed." Why Student Ratings Matter 


“When we stop thinking of evaluation as an event that occurs at the end of the semester and start thinking of it as an ongoing process that is based on multiple sources of information, we will begin to accept the value of student ratings gathered from a reliable and valid system.” Response to Concerns About “Flawed Evaluations”

IDEA Editorials

IDEA Editorial Notes are opinion pieces written by senior staff that reflect the views of The IDEA Center. Our most recent Editorial Notes:




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