Providing Student Feedback

Active learning word cloud

Providing students feedback on their performance of tasks and understanding of course content is central to the aim of active learning. Courses designed around active learning often naturally provide moments of feedback. However, it is important to identify feedback as one of the desired products of the in-class experience so that you develop opportunities for students to be able to not just engage with material but check their understanding at different points in the learning process. Feedback can take many forms and come from fellow students or from the instructor. The following are various direct methods of generating feedback:

Discussion

Discussion can occur at many levels; between neighbors, tables, or the entire class. While smaller groupings allow everyone a chance to grapple with explaining material, the instructors response to student points is key towards providing valuable feedback. To best afford all student's the opportunity to benefit from instructor feedback, discussions should include the whole class wherever possible. This can be achieved by simply bringing the whole class together or by building from small discussions to a larger discussions. The instructor can call on individuals or tables to respond. Students who are more comfortable speaking in smaller formats can have the option of conferring with their teammates or reporting out on what had been previously discussed.

Peer Reviewed Written Assignments

Have students perform a written assignment and then pass it to another students for feedback. Assignments can simply be shared with neighbors or can be continuously passed multiple times as the instructors prompting if they wish to keep the reviewer anonymous. A rubric for reviewers which details what students are supposed to look for and evaluate can help keep student feedback constructive and related directly to the assignment.

Round-Robin

A round-robin in which students rotate through different stations dedicated to different concepts can be valuable for exam preparation. In this exercise, each station - or group table in an ALC - could have a question, exercise, or series of test questions that the students must complete together within a given time period (e.g. ten minutes). Each table could also include an answer key so that students can compare their results and discuss.

Sharing Student Work

Critiquing students work as a class provides important individual feedback while also allowing students to benefit from peer work. You might have students work on wall-mounted boards, display computer-based work on in-room displays, or work on paper before sharing the work with a document camera. This allows the instructor to observe and interject to affirm, redirect, or assist as necessary.  After work has concluded, the groups can share out their work so that the entire class can learn from their product.

Adapted in part from: Baepler, Paul, J.D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, Kem Saichaie, and Christina I. Petersen. A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom: History, Research, and Practice. Sterling: 2016.