Module evaluation: A comparison of standard evaluation with nominal group technique

Jonathan Ives*, John Skelton, Melanie Calvert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Teaching and learning practice in higher education (HE) should incorporate educational evaluation, both for the purpose of external and internal quality assurance and to monitor and improve the student experience. Methods used to evaluate education vary, but the majority of literature on course evaluation is based on quantitative surveys of the learner experience. One alternative to survey evaluation is 'nominal group technique' (NGT), which has been used with some success in curriculum development. This multi-method study aimed to (1) compare the nature and quality of data gathered using NGT with standard written questionnaires, (2) assess the usefulness of the feedback for an individual teacher and institution and (3) consider the appropriateness and feasibility of widespread use. Both the standard written questionnaire and NGT generated data on similar topics. The structured nature of the questionnaire tended to generate short answers which were similar to the results of the NGT ranking exercise. However, in contrast to the questionnaire data, the NGT discussion phase allowed in-depth exploration and interrogation of students' views. Whilst the specific data gathered via NGT are unlikely to be useful for quality assurance purposes within an institution, since they is not easily comparable, they can provide teachers with in-depth information on how to improve the learning experience and improve the efficacy of teaching. It is likely that NGT evaluation will be particularly useful when evaluating new courses, identifying problems in poorly performing courses, and identifying good practice in high-performing courses. Institutional investment in selective NGT evaluation may be more feasible than routine use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalEducation for Primary Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Course evaluation
  • Learner feedback
  • Nominal group technique


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