The power of the feedback loop?

Take a look at the estimable Sam Shah’s post about his colleague’s method of grading classwork. The colleague, a French teacher, has some admirable objectives:

When I adopted a no-homework model for my classes several years ago, my role as a teacher shifted drastically. I was no longer strictly giving instruction, but rather facilitating the movement from one activity to the next and offering on-the-spot feedback and answering questions that my students might have. The goal was to remove myself from the equation as much as possible and put the students at the center of their learning. With all of the emphasis placed on class time, it became incumbent on the student to focus completely and participate thoroughly in each activity. It also became incumbent on me to come up with a system that would allow me to objectively and accurately calculate the quality of student note-taking and participation during class.

So what bothered me so much about the rest of her post, which you really should read? I think it’s the relentless day-after-day emphasis on “points lost” and “infractions.” The whole thing seems negative and punitive, and it encourages excessive grade-consciousness.

That’s not to say that this teacher doesn’t have her finger on a good idea here. In fact, Shah’s title, The Power of the Feedback Loop, addresses a real positive. I have students complete a similar form — combining a self-evaluation with my editing — once a quarter, and doing it more often is probably appropriate. But five days out of every six? I dunno.



Categories: Teaching & Learning