Feedback

I am not a big fan of John Hattie’s research and I do cringe when some people refer to his work as some sort of bible for teachers.  In my opinion what he has pulled together is based on an old paradigm of teaching and learning that is becoming less relevant in today’s world.  Worse still, I think for some it is reinforcing traditional notions of teacher directed learning and in particular, that teacher feedback is the be all and end all.  To me this creates an unrealistic expectation on teachers to almost micro manage student learning .   Don’t get me wrong, teacher feedback is important, but it is just one aspect of a broader theme of feedback.  To me it is more important that we develop students’ ability to analyse their own learning, to recognise their own strengths and weaknesses, and to work with others in improving their understanding.  In fact connecting student with themselves and with others is vital and a core aspect of the NZC.  Hattie himself recognised that it is more important to get students to give teachers feedback, rather than the other way around.

The mistake I was making was seeing feedback as something teachers provided to students—they typically did not, although they made claims that they did it all the time, and most of the feedback they did provide was social and behavioral. It was only when I discovered that feedback was most powerful when it is from the student to the teacher that I started to understand it better. When teachers seek, or at least are open to, feedback from students as to what students know, what they understand, where they make errors, when they have misconceptions, when they are not engaged—then teaching and learning can be synchronized and powerful. Feedback to teachers helps make learning visible.
Hattie, 2009; 173 [my emphasis]
This is a very important part of any classroom, but in online learning it is vital.  If teachers are not getting the students to give them clear and regular feedback then everyone struggles their way through (that includes the teacher).  This year I am going to ease my student into using ePortfolios (most likely Mahara).  We will start this off by just getting them to keep a quick journal that they enter each week.  This could be done in any many different ways, and originally I was just thinking of a google doc that they keep in the folder they have shared with me.  Since looking through Helen Barretts (see below) slideshow on how students could use multiple tools (including cell phones) to develop a portfolio I have re-thought this and I will be discussing with my students tomorrow what ways they would like to do it.  There is no reason why they couldn’t use voice recording on their phones and upload it to where it can accessed or even just send it to me.  Chats in the VC are more difficult, although Skype is real possibility for those one to one chats.  Unfortuntely, most of our schools don’t have an area set up with a web cam and headset.
Whatever way we get it, the student to teacher / student to student aspect of  feedback is important and shouldn’t be forgotten amongst all the rhetoric about the teacher aspect.
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