By Laura Iancu
Teachers, let yourselves be graded by students!
At the end of each course, every educator tries to harvest the efforts allotted through good results. Student achievements give purpose to all the hard work and every hour spent to find new activities. But sometimes it is not enough. To be able to properly comprehend the bad and the good, to develop your teaching skills and manage to provide a better learning environment, it is necessary to request feedback from your students.
Choosing the best tools to gather this kind of information can be difficult. Students are often reticent to such evaluations or lie because the might be afraid to tell their real opinion. It is best to allow them to use anonymity, this will not affect their judgment or the final results.
Of course you will receive funny, impossible or strange answers, especially if you work with teenagers. So don’t be surprised to find under suggestions tips like “next time come with tighter jeans” or “I don’t like you so you are to blame that I can’t focus on final exams”. We all have been there and we know that our students can come up with the most ridiculous ideas but at the same time their imagination, creativity and rationality surprises us in the most wonderful ways.
So what tools should we use to collect valuable feedback?
They can always be adapted to your own needs. You can use it if you need complex evaluation with clear, measurable results. You can request them to grade you, as a teacher or the course they just took. Ask about favorite homework, least favorite project and always make them justify their answer. That is the beauty of online feedback forms, they are really easy to fill, they remain anonymous and student will surpass the fear that you might recognize their handwriting. To easily gather feedback, you can use any online form builder and simply create the desired form.
A creative way to find out what really stuck to their memory. You can ask your students to create a mind map during a lesson. It is really easy for them to understand the app and it is a fun, visual way for them to express. You can ask them to create a presentation with fun facts they remembered, with the most important resources they will use from your subject, fun moments, activities or any other topic. At the end, it would be nice to present your students a final mind map with the most common thing they wrote so both you and them will see the overview on this assessment. For tools, you can use MindMeister , SpiderScribe or other free online mind mapping tools.
It can be the easiest way to draw some highlights over the course experience. Explaining something by using only one or a few word often is really relevant and can give you the general perception that your students have over the subject they just learned. Using a free online poll maker such as 123ContactForm will let you create simple, shareable polls which can be accessed on PC, laptop or any mobile device. Or you can use dedicated widgets available on the platform you are using to publish class related content. At the end, you can use a word cloud generator to present the results in a creative way. This could be your inspiration for your next course. You can try online word generators such as Wordle or Tagul.
You have to prepare yourself that not everyone will give you positive feedback and you have to manage all the information you accumulate with these evaluation. Hence, you must be able to discard useless comments and leverage the valuable inputs.
Because, as Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”