Taking feedback

Published on 9th September, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

I remember with great clarity when one of my students complained that the level of challenge was not great enough for her. Another student heard her complaint and promptly said the same! That was a difficult moment for me, one which obviously needs to be read in context, but it was also an informative one. It reminded me of the importance of getting ongoing feedback, particularly with adult learners.

Feedback does not have to be a lengthy and protracted affair. Obviously your own context and your students’ expectations need to be considered, but I often find that the most useful feedback is of the ‘short and sweet’ variety. Experiment with these three quick ideas:

• At the end of a lesson, send around a slip of paper to each student and ask them to circle the appropriate adverbs (very, quite, fairly, not too) in each case: How useful was today’s lesson? How interesting …? How clear …? Do you have any other comments to help your teacher give you the kind of lessons you prefer …?

• At the end, ask students to tell you their perceptions of the class in response to the following: What was the main focus of the lesson today? What did we spend most of the time doing? What do you feel you learnt? How useful was it? Which part did you enjoy and why? Which part did you not enjoy so much? Can you say why?

• Compare two to three recent but contrasting lessons, to find out students’ preferences. Firstly remind them of the previous lessons, then ask: Which lesson did you enjoy most and can you say why? Which one was the most helpful? Which aspects of these lessons would you like to do more of? For the last point, give some oral suggestions relevant to your lessons at the start.