Every week in the run-up to the ACCA exams in December, Caron Betts will be guiding us through exam preparation from a tutor's point of view.
Feedback is defined as “information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement”, and this week feedback has been playing on my mind quite a bit.
Let me tell you about The Shed.
One of the great things about working from home is that you are always around for any deliveries, and this week it was the turn of the New Garden Shed. It arrived, as promised, on Tuesday and within 30 minutes of the delivery I had an email asking me to “rate your driver”. Asking for feedback promptly after the event is a good idea as people can recall the experience more easily.
Unfortunately, my husband decided he didn’t like the Shed and asked the firm to collect it. Within 2 hours of his call he received an email asking for feedback on The Shed. The very shed he had just said he didn’t want! OK, so having feedback on when things go wrong, is also important.
At the time of writing, The Shed has been collected and I am anxiously awaiting another “rate your driver” request to pop up…
Thinking about these principles of giving feedback promptly and when things go wrong, is important to me as a tutor. I need to sort out any student errors quickly to help them to move on.
Teaching online means I don’t get the visual clue of the “lightbulb moment” I used to see in the classroom to tell me when a student has grasped a concept or theory. Instead our Virtual Learning Campus has a range of activities, forums and tests that I can review to check the individual student’s understanding. Each week the analytics allow to me identify any trends in the student’s behaviour and enable me to assess what feedback is required. Of course, the VLC provides automatic feedback such as giving the correct answer or solution, but sometimes the student may need more than that.
For many years I was an advocate of the feedback sandwich, the “praise, correct, praise” approach. However, the difficulty is that the improvement message can be lost, or the individual still just focuses on the negative aspects and loses confidence.
I want to inspire my students to carry on, to correct any mistakes and to use those new skills to solve problems in the future. Correct feedback fixes not only the current mistake, but develops behavioural skills to tackle challenges that might arise.
My feedback tends to be a combination of questioning to find out what they did and how they did it, followed by direction and guidance on how they can change their approach next time. I guess I am moving into the realms of coaching, but I try to ensure the student takes ownership of their studies so that they can get better. We may only be only week 2 of the course, but I am already spending much of my time in analysing a student’s performance and giving feedback.
Feedback works two ways, and this week sees the end of our quarter when I’ll get the results of our Student Satisfaction Survey. It’s nerve racking to be “assessed”, but I’ll take the feedback and use it as a basis for my improvement.