I have been thinking a lot about student feedback lately. I have been assigned a new class called Innovation and Design (lots more to come on that topic) and a major part of this class which teaches design thinking will be providing students with meaningful feedback on their ideas and projects. One component that I definitely want to include in all major assessments will be a student feedback component. The problem I have had with this in the past is that students are either overly critical or not critical enough. Comments like ‘great job’ and ‘I really liked it’ give nothing to the presenter other than the audience felt positively about the presentation. Often, kids just don’t want to hurt other kids’ feelings. Totally understand and respect that. But, while a presentation might be good, there is a flaw somewhere–some aspect that could use improvement.
So, here is what I have been thinking. A few years ago, I thought about using certain Improv rules in my class. One that I particularly liked was the ‘Yes, and…’ rule which says that you can never say anything in an Improv skit that ends a conversation. A man offers you milk even though you hate milk, you don’t say no. No ends the conversation. You say, ‘Yes, and do you have some cookies to go along with that?’ Ok, that seems like a silly example. Let me put it in terms of student feedback.
I want to apply this to student feedback. Student A gives a presentation and Student B is responsible for giving feedback. Student B begins with ‘I liked your presentation because…’ and gives one area that was really good with a specific example: ‘your presentation flowed very smoothly and it seemed well-rehearsed.’ Now comes the 1 example of feedback: ‘One area I think you should consider is…’ and again comes the specific feedback–’making better eye contact with your audience. It will help them connect better with you on a personal level and get them more interested in your ideas.’
I think the key to good feedback (and this was said by Dr. Timony at an EdCampPhilly presentation) is that it should be immediate and specific. We must remember that evaluations are the way for us to learn and grow.