Stop Individual Student Feedback

I was amazed yesterday at how well students can give feedback on each others work. We had a project-feedback moments and I asked the students to write down feedback on post-its. Each ‘feedback-round’ had a specific aim:

  1. indicate a quality
  2. raise relevant questions
  3. give sound advice
  4. give bland critique

I considered it a very effective class, because within short time we had all given each other feedback. It made me reflect on the question; how relevant is a teacher’s individuals feedback for a student? Is it really necessary?

When talking to my students about the quality of education; they often desire more individual feedback moments with teachers. Individual feedback is not the most effective method to support the majority of a class. I don’t like the situation where students  sit around waiting for their little talk with the teacher.

I also notice that many students find it difficult to prepare for a feedback moment. Some students postpone their research, claiming they don’t want to develop anything until they acquire the “teachers blessing”. Some students passively wait for the teacher to tell them what to do. I think students are aware that they’re sabotaging their own studies this way, but there’s always enough distraction and arguments at hand to explain for themselves why they couldn’t prepare better. The risk of individual teacher-feedback in education; is that it doesn’t challenge students to make their own decisions.

I see a certain paradox in this situation as well. I consider my students motivation above average in relation to non-academy students. They are often well motivated, and strongly dedicated in completing a task. If I ask them about their desires; they often describe big and challenging achievements. They know perfectly well who their heroes are in the industry. They have no problem in working throughout night and day to make the deadline. The problem is definitely not in the big gestures. I think the problem lies in the ability of students to take small steps.

How can we inspire students to take small steps? How can we stimulte them to move ‘slow but steady’. I hope to take some small stepswith them, and give less individual-feedback, in the remaining periode of this project.

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