Turn Feedback in FeedForward

This is post #6 for the 9x9x25 Challenge!

Why are we so afraid of feedback?!

We shouldn’t see feedback as a negative or damaging thing; feedback is meant to help us reflect and grow as educators. In fact, we shouldn’t be waiting until the end of our courses to seek out student feedback. There are a number of reason why we should seek out student feedback early and consistently throughout the semester:

  1. Seeking feedback increases student engagement in your course, especially if they can see that the feedback they are giving you is being taken into consideration and changes are being made based on their feedback. 
  2. Feedback allows you to adjust your lesson to fit students’ the needs and interests (which will again increase engagement). 
  3. Seeking feedback consistently creates a culture of valuing feedback, reflecting on it, acting on it. Model how valuable feedback is!
  4. The feedback process fosters communication and builds community in your classroom. 
  5. Seeking out feedback consistently helps you to focus on creating a learner-centered environment in your classroom.
  6. Feedback can motivate you — good feedback motivates you to keep doing well, poor feedback motivates you to do better.
  7. Consistent feedback keeps you accountable to your students (and your own values) as an educator.
  8. …. really, I could keep going!

A colleague of mine (Jessica O’Reilly) sent me an article by Marshall Goldsmith that discussed the idea of feed forward.  Feedback focuses on the past, but feedforward focuses on giving an individual suggestions for future improvement. I love this idea and think that we should view feedback from our students as feedforward suggestions for continuous improvement in our vocation.

Here are some great ways to seek out feedback and feedforward from your students:

  • Student inventory (at the beginning of the semester — find out what students already know about your subject, what their experience is, what their interests are, etc. to help you craft your lessons)
  • In-class surveys
  • Online surveys (Google Forms is super easy to use!)
    • You can use statements with likert scale
    • OR, you can have a few open ended questions
    • OR, use agree/disagree statements
    • OR, any combination of the above!
  • Minute paper (have students summarize the lesson so you can review what students understood and what you may have to re-teach or correct in the next class)
  • Small group focus groups – done by someone external from the course can help gather anecdotal feedback from students about a range of topics. As the teacher, you could have the focus group interviewer target a specific area of your teaching that you’d like feedforward on)
  • Test/assignment feedback – this allows you to gather feedback on your assignments, tests and grading criteria so that you can make adjustments
  • Start, stop, continue – a great, quick way to gather information about your teaching
  • The Muddiest Point –  a fantastic way to gather feedback from students about the things that are still confusing them or remain unclear
  • Ticket out the Door – an awesome way to gather feedback on your lesson and student understanding
  • Suggestion Box
    • done anonymously
    • could be done online using Google Forms
  • Attendance — are people coming? If no, why not? If yes, why?
  • Active engagement – are people sleeping through your lesson?

Feedback is good. Embrace constructive criticism and praise. Use feedforward to enhance your reflective practice.

 

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