Student feedback is a simple and fast way to learn what’s working in your classroom and what needs tweaking. Creating an effective flow of feedback increases classroom engagement and positive learning outcomes.
It's also a great way to activate student voice in your class or institution. How do you start? What questions should you ask?
How do you help your students to provide meaningful feedback?
We’ve collected some of our best tips from working with teachers who have proven strategies for gathering feedback.
1. Introduce your students to the concept of feedback
As with anything, context is important. Before you ask your students for their feedback, explain why you’re collecting feedback and how it will help you help them. They will connect with the fact that you also are on a learning journey.
2. Create a welcoming environment
If you want useful feedback to spur meaningful change in the classroom, you must create a welcoming environment for your students. One way for students to feel that they can express their views safely is through enabling anonymous responses. This means that students can speak their mind without fear.
Encourage your students to provide feedback that is specific and includes examples, so you can also learn from the experience. This shows you are engaged and responsive to their concerns and views.
3. Ask specific questions
Make sure your questions are specific. This will increase the chances of your students understanding the intent of your question, meaning you’ll get more useful feedback.
For example, a poor question to ask is “How did you find today?” A better phrased question is: “In what ways did today’s activity challenge you?” It should be as clear as possible.
4. Ask fewer questions, but ask them more often
The temptation with feedback is to ask a long raft of questions at the end of a term or year. However, as your list of questions gets longer, the chance of your students thoughtfully addressing these questions decreases. Instead, you should aim for fewer questions but at more regular intervals.
Regular gathering of feedback will also provide you with an opportunity to make any changes before it’s too late. As a rule, we suggest two to three questions every few weeks. Think pulse questions, not a survey.
5. Loop back to your students
There’s nothing worse than providing feedback and then seeing no evidence of it being received. When you ask your students for feedback, be sure to come back to them within a few days. The most effective teachers thank their students for their feedback, and explain a few of the key themes that came through. Most importantly, they outline the things they’ll be doing more of, and the things they’ll be doing less of, as a result.
Coming back to your students is a critical step that closes the loop in your students’ mind and encourages them to provide useful feedback again in the future.
The key to receiving useful student feedback is to create an overall ecosystem that supports students to share their views. With the right technology, it’s easy to start gathering feedback. So, don’t over think it, and just get cracking.
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