Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seeking Student Feedback

Seeking Student Feedback
by Peg Balachowski

I’ve been thinking a lot about student feedback lately, mostly because in Winter Quarter 2017, a cohort of 17 faculty at EvCC are using a new online tool called Instant Feedback to collect data on student learning. The questions all address an instructor’s pedagogy. Students are asked to describe the frequency of the instructors teaching practices in these areas:

•    Displayed a personal interest in you and your learning
•    Found ways to help you answer your own questions
•    Demonstrated the importance of the subject matter
•    Made it clear how each topic fit into the course
•    Explained course material clearly and concisely
•    Introduced stimulating ideas about the subject.

Each time the instructor uses the feedback session (4 times throughout the quarter) they will focus their attention on the area in which they scored the lowest. Faculty will then review white papers that address this area and describe why this topic is important and how to apply this technique in the classroom. After this they plan how to incorporate these new techniques in their class. The most important part of their work is to let students know that they heard what the students said, then tell them what will change based on their feedback. The hope is that whichever area the faculty member address they will see improvement in the next feedback session.

Why do this? Often we as faculty assume we know what students are thinking. This is especially true if we’ve been teaching for a while. I remember in a class thinking I knew what a student was asking before they even asked it! So why ask for honest feedback when it could be scary?

We know that by asking students how things are going in a class they begin to feel valued, and this results in more student engagement. They know their voice has been heard! As this engagement develops, you will likely have fewer classroom management issues.

And remember, this falls under the umbrella of formative assessment. Summative assessment, including exams and quizzes, doesn’t tell the whole story of a student’s progress. Based on the results of formative assessment, you can adjust your classroom practices to maximize student learning.

If you created a short survey to use as a formative assessment for student feedback, what are some good questions you might ask? Post your answers in the comments below, or email!

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