Improving Teaching and Learning Through Student Feedback
One of the hallmarks of a great educator is one who utilizes feedback to the betterment of their teaching. The difficult part is getting the correct type of feedback that allows the teacher to grow. The Federation University of Australia provides a breakdown of the four primary constructive feedback types:
- Negative feedback – corrective comments about past behavior. Focuses on behavior that wasn’t successful and shouldn’t be repeated.
- Positive feedback – affirming comments about past behavior. It focuses on behavior that was successful and should be continued.
- Negative feed-forward – corrective comments about future performance. It focuses on behavior that should be avoided in the future.
- Positive feed-forward – affirming comments about future behavior. Focused on behavior that will improve performance in the future.
Ryan Balch of Vanderbilt University in his paper The Validation of a Student Survey on Teacher Practice outlined the significance of student surveys in the K-12 environment and their increasing commonality as part of teacher evaluations. Many parts of teacher evaluations rely on research-based teaching practices but as student feedback, and success becomes more vital to a teacher’s evaluation it is important to be able to see how the focal points of these types of evaluations are mirrored in student survey questions as seen on page 25 of the above-mentioned paper.
Using the Feedback Types
Tailoring the four types of feedback into corresponding student surveys is a vital strategy for teachers to utilize and allows them to gauge the effectiveness of their teaching directly by those who it is directed towards. The ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) defines feedback as “all the kinds of comments made after the fact, including advice, praise, and evaluation. Feedback is information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal.” They go on to outline the seven key features of effective feedback:
- Tangible and Transparent
Benefits of Student Feedback
Keeping these features in mind when creating student surveys will create a two-fold benefit to educators; keep ahead of the increasing relevance of student feedback in terms of official evaluations and get insight on how those you are teaching are receiving your instruction. Blach further shows this connection with a sample that shows the correlations between [student] survey total and academic engagement and self‐efficacy (Table 19) and explains his results.
“…we see very high correlations between a student’s total score for a teacher and their level of reported academic engagement and self-efficacy. The correlations are slightly 46 higher for engagement than academic self-efficacy […] students with teachers who adopt the practices asked about by the survey have students that are more engaged in the class and report a greater level of confidence in the subject.”
Increased academic engagement and self-efficacy directly lead to increased learning and academic success. As students become more a part of the learning process and see that their feedback is valued, respected, and useful it is no surprise that this type of growth is seen and is important to improving teaching and learning.