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Do you have a sense of how your colleagues are as teachers without ever having set foot in their classrooms? I didn’t realize that students would be so open with their student feedback about a teacher in front of another teacher! As a beginning teacher–I thought I was doing pretty well–that is until I had my summative observation from my principal who pointedly asked me, “would you take your class?” The lesson he observed was like many of my lessons that involved a presentation that was created based on a chapter of the textbook. I was upset at first, but after thinking about it, my lessons were terrible, and quite frankly, “No, I wouldn’t want to take my class!” If I had used student feedback earlier and more frequently, I may have had a better idea of how I was doing.
Getting feedback like this from an administrator is not the time to find out if what you’re doing is engaging for students. Like you give your students constant feedback on how they are doing, you need to get constant feedback from them. You need to understand why receiving and implementing feedback from students is important and ultimately impacts your enrollment. You also need to know what questions to ask and how to ask them. Finally, you need to know how to put together the survey or form and how to receive responses.
In this episode, Khristen discusses:
- How Collecting and Implementing Student Feedback Impacts Enrollment
- Questions to Ask Students Regarding Feedback
- How to Put Together and Gather Responses For Your Student Feedback Survey
How Collecting and Implementing Student Feedback Impacts Enrollment
One of the most surprising things that I learned when I started teaching was that students have no filter–especially when it comes to talking about how they like/dislike another class or teacher. Did they somehow forget I was in the room? They were not usually talking to me about their opinions, but they were most definitely telling their friends. While parents and counselors play a small part in students signing up for your class–most of your referrals are going to come from other students. They will tell everyone the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is in your best interest to know what they are saying to others. Not only that, you need to know what is working and what isn’t so that you can make changes.
Students are really forgiving and if they see that you are making an effort to improve. Make it a priority to take the feedback and suggestions from your students and implement them as soon as possible. Be honest and open about the changes you are implementing and why. This empowers students to continue to give feedback you can use.
Questions to Ask Students Regarding Feedback
Have you ever been asked to fill out a survey that is supposed to take 5 minutes, but then 15 minutes later you’re still going? No one likes that–least of all your students who tend to rush through absolutely everything. Because of this, you want to ask concise questions that will get you the best feedback.
Students are more likely to answer questions on a Likert scale (rate from 1 to 4) than they are to give you short answers. Start with those types of questions. When you use this type of scale, use an even number so that you don’t have any fence-sitters. Start with questions like:
- “Overall, how do you like this class?”
- or a question regarding your essential standards like “I feel confident in using the engineering design process to solve problems.”
You can also ask the question, “Would you recommend this class to a friend?” Keep it to 1 – 3 of these-type questions and consider adding a follow-up short-answer question on why they picked that number.
Next up, add a couple of short-answer questions like:
- “What did your teacher do well?”
- “Any ideas on what your teacher could do better?”
- “What would make this class better?”
or ask about specific activities like: “What was your favorite (or least favorite) activity?” Be sure to end with a general feedback question like, “Is there anything else you would like your teacher to know?” Now that you have your questions ready, you need to create the actual survey.
How to Put Together and Gather Responses For Your Student Feedback Survey
Google Forms may be the easiest way to create a digital survey. I have also used SurveyMonkey and Wufoo before as well. Some may have a cost and may limit the number of questions you can ask. TIP: You are going to get the most complete responses if you use the survey within your class for a starter or a bell-ringer–not as homework. Because of this, you may also consider having the survey be pencil-paper.
No matter what you do to create your survey, you are going to get the most honest feedback if your survey is anonymous. Make sure that it is and that students are aware of this. Could you be asking for some random feedback/answers? Yes, of course, you are, but it allows those who will give you feedback the freedom to do so.
For those of you who are teaching multiple sections of the same class, to keep yourself organized, collect your responses in one spreadsheet. To do this with Google Forms, while you are editing your form, click on the “Responses” tab and make sure you are “collecting responses.” Click on the “Create Spreadsheet” icon. When it asks you to “Select Response Destination,” you will create a new spreadsheet for your first class. Now you will want to click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and “Make A Copy.” This time, when you “Create Spreadsheet” and “Select Response Destination” you will want to create the spreadsheet that you made with the original form. When you open up that spreadsheet, you’ll notice that there are multiple tabs at the bottom for each set of responses. You can then edit those tabs with the name of the class.