A conversation between two Teaching Assistants, Terri Jane Stapleton and Joanne Azevedo, about requesting and receiving feedback from their students on their teaching, particularly the Start, Stop, Continue Method described by Terri Jane.
Hi Joanne, I have to tell you about this workshop that I went to. It was amazing but frightening as well. I went to this workshop about feedback and the importance of getting feedback from the students not at just the end of the course when it was all over but along the way, mid midterm, and I can tell you that I was scared to death. I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what the students had to say about my teaching, what they were getting out of the tutorials, but I was challenged and so, as scared as I was. I decided that I would try it.
>>Well I really wanna seek some feedback from my students because I’m finding that the forms that we’re using currently, whether they’re at the midterm or the end of the term, they don’t seem very meaningful to me. They’re ticky forms, you know. They have a section where the students are asked to give some feedback, but oftentimes they’ll just write, you know, one-word answer, yes or no or it’s fine or Joanne’s great, whatever, but it’s not particularly helpful and I did ask my students and really tried, almost begging, please put something meaningful, please put something in detail even if you think it might hurt my feelings I’d really like to hear it. Now even having said that they still haven’t given it to me, so I’m really kind of stumped. I’m not sure how to actually get feedback from my students that’s going to give me something I can work with.
>>Well this is what I did, it’s completely informal. Walked into the class and I said today what we’re going to do is the first thing we’re going to do is you’re going to have the opportunity to give me some feedback. Something that I will use and incorporate and ponder over. I asked them to pull out a piece of paper, simple piece of paper, very top start then put stop then put continue and it’s completely anonymous, completely anonymous. I liked your idea about asking to put something or writing something anonymous so, not anonymous sorry, but meaningful, meaningful. The next time because some of these are a little brief but I did get a lot of a lot of ideas from this as to what was working and what was not working. That’s another thing that you can do, you can say what is working, what’s not working but here’s the ones that I got. More debates on issues. So that was a start one. This one here
>> Yes what I found worked really well was dividing the group up into smaller groups. That way I found the quieter students had an opportunity to speak and the ones that spoke all the time didn’t speak so much. They gave the others an opportunity and I found in the larger groups they didn’t speak as much so that’s why. This one here says the small groups is great then bigger group to make connections. So we brought it back, the smaller discussions into the bigger discussions, so I knew it was working. Here’s some others: start including media and video clips to support lectures. More people interaction. One of the things that I found very difficult with this particular course is I was never given an agenda ahead of time by the professor. So even though we had readings he might not delve into some of the readings and leave them completely out. So that wasn’t possible, but
>>It’s good feedback.
>> It’s very very good. I would have like to do that.
>>What I’m interested in hearing is for example in the other evaluations I’m finding I’m getting one-word answers but here you’ve got one word groups. You know, stop groups. Well that’s pretty informative. So even though we’re only getting one word answers, the one word answers seem to be a little bit more useful.
>>This one, discussing expanding more on lecture material well, was very important to know. They wanted more of an expansion on that. Group based discussions, continue, that’s one thing they like. This one, continue doing what you were doing. Well I guess I was doing something right there.
>>So I guess this feedback though could be useful because you are repeatedly, you’re getting feedback from students that they’re liking what they’re experiencing. They’re saying continue as is.
>>Continue yes some of them.
>>Keep doing what you are doing. So, so I guess that’s useful feedback as well.
>> This one is very important, clarification on the lecture because sometimes the Prof is hard to understand. He had a very thick accent. Even I found it difficult at times.
>> and here they’re saying they liked the group work.
>>Well some did, but I do have others that said they don’t like this. A, this one said, it said, maybe preparing for essay writing or exams. That’s something that I wasn’t doing. I thought I was doing but I needed to up that a little bit more. There’s another one here about timing that I thought was pretty important. This one was about bringing hot topics, meaning things that are in the news and connecting it. So I asked them to do that, that’s how I incorporated that. This one is about timing. It was important for me to make sure that I let them out of class on time. There’s lots of different tidbits in here, but I want to let you know what I did with this. I didn’t just leave it at that. The next time I came back to class I went over the things, the points they had made. I clarified and then I told them what the different changes I was going to make and they could give me feedback on that verbally and just on their thoughts on that.
>> and at the end of it, did you find that your anxiety was…
>>Oh my, this was so helpful. I couldn’t believe that it turned out so well because I was so apprehensive, very very apprehensive about getting feedback
>>Absolutely and anonymous was the best way to go. They could be as honest as they wanted to be.
>>Well thank you very much for helping me with that.