Friday, November 14, 2014

Improving the Feedback Loop

One of the hallmarks of learning through projects is the continuous feedback loop, where students have checkpoints they have chosen, they receive feedback on the content and process of these checkpoints, and then have the opportunity to provide improved submissions. I am working alongside 14 students with their projects at the moment. This may not sound like a lot of students, but if a thorough check-in requires 5-10 minutes of time, that total time adds up quickly.

I brainstormed with my class today about what some student support for these checkpoints might look like. In other words, we started thinking about how the students themselves might do a better job of holding each other accountable for creating products that show the excellence of their work. Here are some of the thoughts they had about how they could better support each other:
  • Ensure that everyone has the attitude that feedback is being done to to help others.
  • Insist on both positive and improvement needed feedback when sharing with a classmate.
  • Use established project checkpoints and have a reviewer submit a short, bullet-pointed evaluation of the work, sharing potential next questions or next steps.
  • Commit to one other to look more critically at each other's work. Many are hesitant provide constructive criticism to those they have known for a long time.
While my feedback for students is important, I want them to have the opportunity to learn from each other through this process far more than they have been doing so far. These ideas seem like a start, yet at first glance, they also seem a little vague. Only one of these ideas addresses practical elements of feedback, while the others deal with attitudes and behaviors related to the topic.

So what do you think? How might I best engage students in a substantive feedback process? Feel free to share ideas as a comment to this post. I value your ideas.

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