Why continuous feedback from students to teachers is a win-win
Feedbacks are useful to rethink activities and improve the effects of our actions. For an effective teaching-and-learning process, it is important that feedbacks that are given by students and teachers work in both directions.
A teacher enters a classroom and sits at the chair in front of the blackboard. There are 5 minutes left before the beginning of the first class of the course and the students are taking their seats. It is the first time they see each other, they don’t know the teacher and the teacher doesn’t know them. Will they understand what the professor will talk about during the class? Will the teacher be able to distinguish curious eyes from those lost and confused? Will they ask something or will they just leave the class with a simple “goodbye”?
The relation between a teacher and a group of students is a relation of communication in which both parts give and receive information in a continuous exchange. When a person receives interesting or important information, she tries to reprocess them and use them to modify her own beliefs on a given subject. To succeed in this means learning. But what happens if the information is not given efficiently? What happens when communication is disrupted and doesn’t work? Learning becomes hard, the interpretative effort increases, the misunderstandings distance the achievement of learning outcomes, the motivation to apprehend drops.
Our teacher has asked herself legitimate questions: the communicative relationship that she is preparing to establish with her students could be disrupted by a failure to share certain language codes, maybe those specific for the subject or the study materials. The relationship could be also disrupted by the difficulty to receive and read those signals that allow you to regulate your actions, whether they are non-verbal language signals or explicit questions.
For communication, and consequently learning, to take place profitably, the transmission channels must work in both directions. The teacher will make every effort to be as clear as possible, to present arguments in logical units with sense, to give adequate materials to her students, trying to learn their educational and professional background. But that won’t be enough. She will need to know every doubt students may still have, what has caught their attention the most, whether they have lived the lecture with a feeling of anxiety, boredom, or enthusiasm. The learning potential will not be realized as half of the communication process will be missing.
The regulatory function of feedback has educational importance both for students and teachers, as both parts learn only if they can modify their attitude and behavior based on the information they receive during the communication process of teaching/learning. The condition is that the feedback has to be continuous, and has to happen during the course and not at the end — as it usually happens in most university courses. Until a few years ago, this would have sounded like a utopia: how can we allow teachers to have impressions, comments, feedback, from their numerous students in a continuous way during the course?
Today, this is possible thanks to educational technologies as Wyblo. Through a simple and intuitive app, students can make known positive and negative aspects of the didactic, transmit their emotions towards the teaching, and their level of trust in the teacher. The test is taken anonymously and it takes only a few minutes after each class to compile it. Through a continuous feedback system, teachers can learn how to “adjust the range” of their teaching, facilitating the learning of their students. At the same time, students are called to play an active and conscious role in their learning process, feeling co-responsible for the quality of teaching.