This study compares two techniques for eliciting feedback from students for the purpose of the improvement of teaching: a questionnaire and an interactive (discussion) method. The aim of the study was to determine whether the assumed advantages of interactive techniques over questionnaires could be substantiated. In a detailed comparison of the information generated by the two techniques, the common assumption that a free discussion technique would generate more unanticipated issues and suggestions for teaching improvement was not substantiated. Nevertheless, teachers clearly preferred the information generated by the discussion process. Our data suggest that this preference could be attributed to the distinctly different form in which the information is reported to the teachers: a succinct, organised, coherent written summation of the discussion group proceedings as compared with written comments on innumerable questionnaires, information which remains discrete and unintegrated. We also considered two other possible explanations for the teachers' preference: first, the higher proportion of critical responses generated by the discussion technique, and secondly, subtle differences in the information itself, unrelated to the form of the reporting, differences not measured in the study.
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