CPD: Collecting feedback from students

Recently I listened in to All About Feedback From Students, a webinar led by Michael Griffin (you can tweet him @michaelegriffin) as part of the Belta Sundays series.

This is a subject that’s been on my mind a lot recently. I know that it’s very important to gather quality information and feedback on my teaching. However, I wanted to be more confident about how to proceed and what to do with the information I receive, especially as I work for myself.

Michael reviewed why we should collect feedback, how and what to do with it once we’ve got it. Discussion in the chat box was encouraged and other participants contributed some good ideas.

The main things I took away were:

1. Anonymity is not always crucial when asking for feedback, sometimes it’s more useful when you know who it’s coming from. I liked this point especially because I work with a lot of one2one classes or small groups so it’s not very easy to guarantee anonymity. In addition, an interesting idea is that this way students are encouraged to accept responsibility for their comments and not just complain for the sake of it (does this happen much? It hasn’t really in my experience…).

2. Asking students for feedback is like a pressure valve. I like the metaphor.

3. What to ask about is always a sticky question for me. I usually do the classic, what did you like/didn’t you like/can you suggest for improvement thing. But a good idea might be to ask about what’s new in class or about what we’re trying to do with a particular group (new method, new coursebook…).

4. We could train students to give effective feedback. I think this is the most interesting thought that came up. How can we communicate more clearly what we expect them to do?Can we help them see the difference between ‘what I like doing in class’ and ‘what’s useful for my learning’?  (I’m now thinking that question over myself, what is the difference and how might student’s distinguishing between them impact on the feedback they give…hmmm…).

5. Many of my students ignore end of course emails requesting feedback, so perhaps they don’t realise its value. Or what it’s for. Or maybe in the past they didn’t see any outcome from giving feedback so don’t realise it’s useful.

Action points:

  • I will try to be much more explicit about why I am asking for feedback. I’ll ditch email feedback requests and come up with a class activity. I think it’s time to start a discussion.
  • I will try to gain their trust by asking for feedback at regular and measurable intervals throughout the course and acting on it (when sensible!) so they see the impact their ideas can have.

Things to look up/try out:

  • linoit.com – A way to collaborate with students on collecting and discussing feedback online.

Find out more about my CPD Series here.


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