Understanding CES

The Course Experience Survey (CES) gives students the opportunity to provide feedback on their courses and helps to improve the quality of the learning and teaching. The Survey responses are quantified through the Good Teaching Score (GTS) and Overall Satisfaction Index (OSI). These scores are useful for teachers to reflect on and enhance their teaching practice. The survey link is emailed to students in the second half of each semester and surveys take approximately 10 minutes to complete per course.

Key Takeaways

Familiarise yourself with good teaching strategies

Tips to engage students with the CES


Learn about the CES workflow

How to improve GTS/OSI


Teachers can improve their GTS/OSI by adopting good teaching strategies such as providing regular feedback, contextualising your content, designing authentic activities and assessments, providing peer learning opportunities and regularly checking in with students. These strategies are detailed below.


The teaching staff are extremely good at explaining things.

Practical Tips for Improvement

  • Check in for understanding. Try asking your students: What questions do you have? Is there anything you would like me to clarify/go over again?
  • Record a video explaining your assessment task in more detail.
  • Use a wide range of resources to explain things from different angles, e.g. Twitter, blogs, images, TEDtalks.
  • Explain how assessment and activities connect with experiences in the workplace, industry or community.
  • What does “good” look like?” Provide a graded and annotated example of student work with feedback to students so they can see what is expected.
  • Check in with your students. Try classroom assessment techniques (CATs)– simple, quick, non-graded, anonymous tasks carried out in class where students pause, reflect and write down their response to an enquiry about their learning.
  • Conduct a mid-semester course review.
  • Use Canvas and RMIT–supported educational tools to enhance your course. 



The teaching staff normally give me helpful feedback on how I am going in this course.

Practical Tips for Improvement:

  • Use the term ‘feedback’ in different contexts:
    – make students aware of what feedback is and when you’re giving it
    – call ‘consultation’ time/critiques/pin-ups/talking about student work a ‘feedback’ session
    – label marking sheets, rubrics, resources as ‘feedback’ sheets.
  • Record verbal feedback when giving feedback on student work in informal/formative settings e.g. critiques, pin-ups, project reviews. Ask students to record the feedback session on their phones so they can refer back to it later.
  • Build in strategies for students to share their work, receive formative feedback, clarify the muddiest points.
  • Structure feedback consistently, e.g. “3 positive aspects; 3 things to improve” and provide links to related resources.
  • Provide feedback to students when they contribute to whole of class and small group discussions. Refer to students by name, and name your comments as ‘feedback’.
  • Give video or audio feedback on assessment tasks, e.g. record feedback on Canvas.
  • Use peer feedback to encourage students to seek and use feedback from a variety of people (i.e. not just the teacher).



The teaching in this course motivates me to do my best work.

Practical Tips for Improvement

  • Get to know your students:
    – learn students’ names, and pronouns, and use them
    – try name plates or name tags especially early on (as will help students to learn each other’s names also)
    – ask students to create a short profile for you, something unique/interesting about them with a photo (a voluntary activity).
  • Bookend feedback – start and conclude with positive comments.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Provide alternatives/options so students feel they have some agency. Make students partners in their learning through provision of some flexibility and choice.
  • Encourage students to do their best as it broadens their choices in further study and future professional practice.
  • Provide students with data about overall class performance to highlight their achievements and to identify areas for improvement.
  • Encourage students to seek guidance and study support from the Library.



The teaching staff work hard to make this course interesting

Practical Tips for Improvement:

  • Use examples relevant to the students. Use international examples. – Draw on students experiences and backgrounds.
  • Use a variety of activities, materials and presentation methods in your teaching.
  • Draw on current events and issues such as case studies and professional practice scenarios.
  • Design authentic tasks:
    – allow for different ways for students to demonstrate knowledge
    – use industry case studies, scenarios and examples
    – align tasks with what students are required to perform in industry.
  • Build on your students’ prior knowledge, check what they know already either from studies or their own experience.
  • Make explicit the links between the course and industry, utilise guest speakers, structure interactive student/industry panels, draw upon other networks such as alumni.



The staff make a real effort to understand difficulties I might be having with my work

Practical Tips for Improvement:

  • Use the term ‘difficulties’: Try asking your students: Are you having any ‘difficulties’? Use the same terminology when explaining assessment tasks.
  • Show examples of good work:
    – provide models of good assessment pieces
    – give students the opportunity to apply a grading rubric to a sample assessment task from a previous semester
    – provide exemplars for students that are annotated against the rubric.
  • Use dynamic feedback tools (e.g. Bluepulse, GoSoap Box, Responseware) at least once during semester.
  • Structure focus groups in class and ask: what’s working and what isn’t; what content do they get/not get; what activities were useful/irrelevant/meaningful?
  • Clarify and manage your availability to students in your Canvas site and course guide to help manage expectations.
  • Design learning activities so that students can check for understanding with their peers/teachers.



The staff put a lot of time into commenting on my work.

Practical Tips for Improvement:

  • Provide general feedback to the whole class on assessment tasks, as well as individual feedback, so that students will know how they are going compared to their peers.
  • Provide more formative feedback. Build in strategies for students to share their work and receive formative feedback.
  • Ensure that tasks have clear assessment criteria so your students know what they are being marked on.
  • Exemplary students commonly put extra effort into their assessments and expect detailed feedback, even if it is all positive.
  • Encourage students to discuss their progress and your feedback. Structure student/staff feedback session times.
  • Include detailed information on rubrics and contextualise this with individualised written feedback
  • Make students aware that ‘commenting’ on their work is ‘feedback’ – whether done in writing, verbally or recorded.


Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this course.

The OSI score reflects the student’s experience of the overall course. This could include rooms, equipment, timetabling or course structure.

Practical Tips for Improvement:

  • Check in with the students regularly – How are you finding the course? Any issues or concerns about the course? Is there anything I need to be aware of?
  • Review student feedback from SSCC (Staff Student Consultative Committee). Is there anything you can address or at least acknowledge during the semester?
  • Advise students how you have responded to the feedback and issues they raise.
  • Be candid – where issues are beyond your control, let students know this but also tell them how you will address them, e.g. escalate;
    –  acknowledge and recognise not appropriate or feasible.
  • Reflect on course design factors, including pace, workload, and alignment of assessment with course content and learning outcomes. Strategies around feedback and assessment are also included against relevant GTS items.
  • Use CES qualitative comments to identify issues that connect to student satisfaction and perceptions of quality, such as timetabling (course scheduling), format (time given to lecture or workshop) and issues with technology.

Tips or improving response rate

  • Talk to the students about the CES and let them know (a) that it’s valuable to you and (b) why you value it. In general, if the students think you don’t care about it, they probably won’t either.
  • Give some examples of improvements that have been made to the class on the basis of previous feedback. This is useful when introducing the course to create a positive vibe as well as at the time CES is undertaken. This is very important as many students believe that we won’t take any notice of what they say so why should they bother to complete the survey.
  • Allow some time in class to do the survey. It takes only about 10 minutes.
  • Give the students some notice that you’re going to allow this time so they can come prepared with a mobile device on which they can complete the survey.
  • The CES response rates can be accessed from the following URL http://www.rmit.edu.au/ssc
  • More information can be found on: CAQE Resource Hub – CES Page

How students get access to CES

There are 3 options to access the survey:

Find the survey link in the student inbox

Sender: RMIT student Feedback Team <surveys@rmit.edu.au>

Subject: Course Experience Survey – tell us about your course.

Click link in email


2. Access via Canvas

Select Student Surveys


3. Access via Direct Link

Student login required.

CES Workflow

The CES is opened in Week 9 of each semester (early May or mid-September) and normally lasts for 4 weeks. Survey release can be adjusted for non semester course delivery times such as flex term or intensives. During the survey weeks, the Survey Centre and DSC Quality Enhancement team provide weekly response rate updates to schools. Survey results are released on the same date as the official results release date each semester. CES survey results distribution is illustrated in the flowchart below. CES data is only distributed to staff indicated in the workflow. The DSC Quality Enhancement team provides post-release support to schools on data distribution, visualisation and interpretation.


Where to next?

Have any more queries? Contact the DSC L&T Quality Team at dsc.quality@rmit.edu.au.