Collecting, Organizing, and Responding to Student Feedback

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

Original page created by Laura Guertin (Pennsylvania State University Brandywine) and Rebecca Teed (SERC) with additions and revisions by Gail Hoyt (University of Kentucky), Jennifer Imazeki (San Diego State University), Barbara Millis (University of Texas San Antonio), and Jose Vazquez-Cognet (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

The final step in creating an interactive lecture experience is to consider how to collect feedback on student learning. Interactive lectures give instructors a variety of ways to get feedback on how well students are learning the material before they take a quiz or exam (more than a visual scanning of the students for glazed eyes and bewildered looks.) This feedback

  • provides immediate or rapid responses from students
  • allows for an immediate response from you (or rapid in the case of written feedback)
  • can motivate students to participate more fully in activities
  • allows you to instantly modify lecture as needed: if most of the class understands, you can move on. If not, it's time to work on the topic some more (assessing and repeating as necessary)

As part of pre-instructional planning, instructors should consider how to collect feedback from students during interactive segments, and decide whether that material will be graded or not.

To grade or not to grade

Although many interactive techniques require students to produce some output that might be graded, not everything that students produce must be graded. Grading provides students with stronger incentives to participate and respond accurately but also requires more time and effort on the part of the instructor. Activities need not be graded for students to receive feedback; that could be accomplished through the task itself or follow up discussion. In general, assessment can have high stakes for students (where the content must be correct for full credit), low stakes (where credit is based more on participation and effort), or no stakes (where students receive feedback but nothing is collected).

Informally Assessing Learning during Group or Pair Activities

Listening to your students' discussion during or as part of the follow-up to an activity will also enable you to assess their understanding. This can supplement or replace written feedback. The instructor might consider these easy

Collecting Feedback

In situations where students are responding to questions with multiple choice answers (e.g., Conceptests), responses can be tabulated in numerous ways from the simple raising of hands to the use of student classroom response systems.

Questions or problems with variable, open-ended, or complex responses can be used as the basis for a think-pair-share. The Question of the Day response is written (or drawn, or calculated). Written feedback from these activities also enables instructors to quickly assess student learning.

One option for facilitating the distribution and collection of assignments or activity feedback, particularly with large classes, is to create structured teams. Responses to questions can be submitted either individually or as a team, and team folders can be used to organize any written responses, as well as to identify individual students.

Responding to the Responses

One of the challenges of interactive lecturing is dealing with incorrect answers. If many students don't understand, you haven't explained it properly, or it's simply a very difficult topic. With an interactive lecture, you discover the problem early. Instructors should to respond to student answers and to think carefully about how to handle incorrect answers otherwise, students will be less likely to respond if they think their answers are not being heard or if the instructor's response is uncomfortable or overwhelming. The following are