Teaching Strategies

What to do with the Feedback

Examining the Feedback

  • Read all the feedback: Read all of the feedback and give yourself time to reflect.
  • Don’t ignore the positive feedback: As you first read through the feedback, make sure you spend time focusing on the positive comments you received from students. The positive comments can help you identify practices you want to be sure to continue, and reading the positive feedback together with the critique provides a fuller picture of students’ experience and can help you identify trends and choose the most effective adjustments.
  • Identify trends: although you shouldn’t ignore outlier comments, keep your primary focus on general trends and adjustments you can actually make before the end of the semester.
  • Sort by degree of change: Payette and Brown (2018) recommend you sort the comments into a few different buckets: 
    • small, easy, noncontroversial changes that can be made immediately 
    • more substantive changes that can and will shift before the end of the semester 
    • considerations for future semesters 
    • suggestions that can’t or won’t be implemented because they contradict with a central pedagogical goal or philosophy 

Closing the Loop With Your Students

Closing the loop with your students is an essential part of the feedback process. Doing so shows your students that you take them seriously and are committed to their learning. Disregarding feedback, or implementing the feedback without talking with students, can leave students with the impression that you do not care about what they had to say or are uninterested in responding to their concerns.

  • Focus on main themes: You do not need to address every single suggestion or comment. While it is important to be transparent with students and respond to significant trends, it is not necessarily possible or desirable to address every point.
  • Align your approach with classroom culture: Present the data in a way that feels natural for you and appropriate to the classroom culture you are striving to develop. This can be a quick presentation at the beginning of class or a more extended conversation with students. Some faculty choose to create tables or graphs to represent the data or use a powerpoint presentation or handout.
  • Quantify data when possible: When presenting the feedback to students, it is helpful to quantify the qualitative data as much as possible. For instance, you might be able to say: “forty percent of students found that x was impeding your learning. I’ve considered how I might address that challenge, and have decided to. . .”
  • When to solicit additional student comments: In the event that you receive contradictory feedback, you may be interested in in opening up a dialogue with students in order to get more information or allow students to hear from one another. If you do decide to do this, do so conscientiously. Remember that you have promised students that their feedback would be confidential; you will want to avoid breaking that trust. If you do decide it is productive to open up the conversation, take the time to put clear boundaries around the conversation (keep all comments focused on a specific question, for instance, and orient the conversation toward surfacing concrete strategies or takeaways).