On subsequent tests, I include a feedback section. I take out the key skills that we have worked on in that unit and ask them to rate themselves 1-5. I then ask questions about what instructional practices have helped them achieve their goals and other open ended questions about the learning going on in class. It is worth 5 points on the test so the students answer it. Asking them to rate themselves is important because it focuses their suggestions on academics rather than personality.
Shockingly, most students are very sincere and concrete in their feedback. They have asked to increase homework frequency, use the board differently and have even suggested a particular graphic organizer. I make sure to modify my instruction and tell them I am doing so. If I can find educational research that backs up their request, I tell them about it. This helps the students be conscious of their thinking and learning styles. It becomes highly motivating for them to come up with clear, concrete suggestions instead of general complaints. It creates a classroom focused on growth rather than on getting good grades. I love when a student comes up at the end of class and says she is proud of me that I ____ while I am teaching. It also means I can change course if I see something isn’t working instead of waiting until the end of the year to hear that a kid feels he didn’t learn all year.
I save the feedback sheets. On the final, I ask them the same questions as I did on the first day. Last year, I circled their original rating from the first day so they could see their growth. This was particularly meaningful for kids who got C’s & D’s since they saw their own growth and they cared less that their grade was low. I then use their feedback from the whole year to plan for my next year. If I see that students don’t feel like they have improved in a particular area, I use my summer to think of strategies of how to address that skill set.