Not All Feedback is Created Equal
There’s a seriously dangerous kind of feedback that I’ve just been reminded of.
I’m currently enrolled at the University of Phoenix against my will. I feel shanghaied by the pedagogical silliness that this kind of environment creates, but, if I want to continue to teach math in Iowa, I suppose it must be so.
I found myself waiting for feedback from my “professor.” Not so that I can get better, but to find out if she’s going to award me enough points so that I can be done with the class for good. I was sincerely willing to edit my academic behavior based on her feedback. Sincerely, in a most insincere way.
This is the worst kind of feedback I can imagine, and I realized that it represents almost the sum total of feedback interactions most students experience–which sucks, royally.
What if this is what students are really thinking, “I hope he likes the drivel I just submitted, if not, I hope he tells me exactly what flavor of drivel he prefers so I can be done.” It’s a really hard line to find, because I bet that I look engaged in this class, but it really is for the absolute wrong reasons.
The BlueHarvest experiment I’ve been running this semester, I hope, has been richer than this, but there’ll be more on that in the coming weeks.
My job has been to help students generate projects that climb the cognitive ladder. However, I’ve seen remnants of UoPh-isms in my kids, and it has got me down.
A lot of students will request a conference with me so that they can spout back the wikipedia. A good place to start, I say, but how are you going to connect this to your life so that you’ll truly remember it. There’s a lot of blank stares that go with that question. Um, I mean, I know what an intron is, won’t you check that off then? No, child, why do they matter, and how can you show it to a 7th grader?
Hands down this has been the hardest semester of my life, because every student needs this kind of surgical attention on nearly every standard. My count to date is pushing 2,500 individual conferences with students recorded into BlueHarvest.
Yeah, I’ll have a beer.
The worst part is, I’m not sure they got the deep lab experience I was hoping for. Sure, a few students chose to design laboratory experiments to demonstrate their understanding, but most went the poster-presentation-movie-ppt route. Not bad, but much too academic for a lab course. Pero, que sera, sera, no?
Again, here are the hallmarks of a student who has passed the Cornally FeedThresh:
- The student knows that first attempts are rarely perfect, and often require serious revising.
- The student wants expert feedback on work that is established and based on research and the literature.
- The student knows that his learning is not tied to class time or any other arbitrary unit of time or space.