Soliciting learners’ feedback on our courses, programs, and other learning environments can offer powerful opportunities for reflection that may lead us to change aspects of our teaching or renew our commitment to specific approaches. The most common methods of collecting feedback are through surveys distributed at the midpoint and again at the end of an opportunity. This feedback offers key insights that can influence how we approach our teaching in a future iteration, if not in the current offering. Yet these methods offer at most only one or two opportunities to intentionally connect with our learners about how we are facilitating their learning.
In contrast, a feedback team is a small group of students who meet regularly with an instructor throughout a course or other opportunity with the goal of enhancing student learning (Nuhfer, 2008). Typically, the instructor solicits three to five volunteers at the beginning of the semester. Throughout the semester, the team collects feedback from their peers through informal conversations and short in-class surveys, then synthesizes and summarizes the information before sharing it with the instructor. This practice can also be meaningfully adapted for longer-term opportunities as well as for co-curricular contexts.
Incorporating a feedback team has been shown to benefit instructors and their students across disciplines and in ways that increase motivation and engagement. Students enrolled in courses with feedback teams have reported feeling a greater sense of ownership of the course and a positive perception of the instructor’s investment in their learning (Cullen & Johnston, 1999; Troisi, 2015). The collaborative nature of a feedback team can also improve the overall course climate (Schmidt et al., 2005; Troisi, 2014). The students who are members of the student feedback team may experience other benefits as well, such as feeling more confident and empowered (Hayward et al., 2018; Michaud et al., 1996).
There are many options for gathering feedback from your learners, whether your context is a course, program, or other kind of learning opportunity. Whenever you choose to work with a feedback team or solicit your learners’ feedback in other ways, consider the following questions:
- What do you want feedback on? Learners can give feedback on specific aspects of the learning environment, such as activities and assignments, or more generally about what is working well and what could be improved.
- What feedback is most important and most feasible to act on? It is important to prioritize the feedback that you think will have the greatest impact on learning and that is feasible to act on in the current offering. A feedback team can be a valuable sounding board as you consider what to continue doing and what to refine.
- How will you share your response with your learners? Thanking your learners for their feedback and explaining the main points you will act on can demonstrate that you value their feedback.
Cullen, J. A., & Johnston, L. W. (1999). Using quality circles in the classroom to improve student learning and satisfaction. Journal of Nursing Education, 38(8), 368-370.
Hayward, L., Ventura, S., Schuldt, H., & Donlan, P. (2018). Student pedagogical teams: Students as course consultants engaged in process of teaching and learning. College Teaching, 66(1), 37-47.
Michaud, S. M., Sontag, M.-A., & Smiar, N. (1996). Who’s in charge here anyway? Student management teams as an empowerment tool. The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 1(2), 85-91.
Nuhfer, E. (2008). A handbook for student management teams. Retrieved from http://profcamp.tripod.com/New_PM_Intro_SMT.pdf
Schmidt, S. J., Parmer, M. S., & Bohn, D. M. (2005). Using quality circles to enhance student involvement and course quality in a large undergraduate food science and human nutrition course. Journal of Food Science Education, 1, 2-9.
Troisi, J. D. (2014). Making the grade and staying engaged: The influence of student management teams on student classroom outcomes. Teaching of Psychology, 41(2), 99-103.
Troisi, J. D. (2015). Student management teams increase college students’ feelings of autonomy in the classroom. College Teaching, 63(2), 83-89.