Monday, December 7, 2015

Getting Formative Feedback as a Teacher

By: Rachel Barry

Formative Assessment has been a focus of our Leader Learners, PLT, and Collab Lab meetings this year.  We have been discussing the importance of providing students written feedback and how that means more to students than a grade in the grade book.  In some of my graduate school courses, we discussed the importance of student input in their education.  When thinking about these two ideas, I realized that I need to ask my students for formative feedback in order to best meet their needs.

To obtain this feedback, I created a Google Form consisting of 5 open-ended response questions, with each question required to be answered.  I didn't take down their names so that students would feel comfortable in being honest with their answers.  Here is a list of the questions that I asked:

1.  What is your favorite part of math class?

2.  What do you dislike about math class?

3.  What motivates you in school?

4.  What are your feelings towards grades? (Are you more inclined to work hard? Do they discourage you? Would you rather not have a gradebook?)

5. Do you like working at your own pace? (Or would you rather the whole class move at the same pace, even if it means it is too fast for some and too slow for others?)

The question that I was most curious about was Question 5, as this is a new way of learning for many students.  You can learn about this individualized learning model that I have been implementing in this previous blog post.  I will be honest that I was apprehensive of this process, and I was nervous that students would vocalize their dislike of the model.  Upon looking at the data, 73 of my 90 students completed the Google Form.  Of the 73 students that completed the form, 51 responded positively to working at their own pace, 15 responded negatively, and 7 were indifferent.  

So, what should I do with this information?  Going forward, I have decided to find a happy medium.  For students that are comfortable working at their own pace, they can continue to do so, as the resources are available to them on Schoology.  For the students who would prefer to work as a class, I will pull them aside in small groups to go over the notes.  This hybrid format may work out positively for both groups of students.  My hesitation is that it may take too much time away from my answering of students' questions.  I am going to see how this works in the next unit and reevaluate then!

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