Higher Education

Providing Feedback

Your course Resources have explored different types of assessments as well as the role of timing in the assessment process. As you have discovered, providing formative assessment that guides learning is just as valuable as summative assessments that evaluate what was learned. You have also examined how to give meaningful feedback, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.

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In this Discussion, you will apply what you have learned regarding feedback. As you read the following dialogue, recall Stephen Brookfield’s characteristics of helpful evaluations.

Adult Learner (AL): I’d like to talk to you about this evaluation.

Adult Educator (AE): Yes?

AL: This says my, quote, “performance was disappointing.” What are you talking about?

AE: Just as stated. I am sorry to say that I felt your performance was disappointing.

AL: But what does that mean? I came to all four classes in this program.

You said my final reflection showed I understood the material. I don’t understand what I did that disappointed you.

AE: Yes, you were present for every class. But you did not contribute to discussions. Whenever I asked you a direct question, you had little to say. In your team’s evaluation of your group project, there were complaints about your lack of participation. Your overall performance was not in keeping with what it seems you are capable of doing. However, your final reflection was excellent.

AL: But that’s just who I am! I don’t like to talk or answer questions like that.

It puts me on the spot. I feel uncomfortable. I know some of my group complained about me. I told them — and you — that I had to work overtime the week of the project and that I would do what I could. Personally, I think the editing I did on our summary was an important contribution. Several members said as much. You commented that the writing was clear and succinct. After you returned my reflection, I thought I’d get a great evaluation. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_education for more information.

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AE: Nonetheless, participation matters in this program. It factors significantly in your evaluation. I stated this on the first day of class.

AL: But, hey, why didn’t you tell me all this before now? I’m supposed to give this evaluation to my boss to get reimbursed for the tuition for this program! You write here that I “demonstrated understanding of the chief principles based on the final reflection, yet overall performance was disappointing.” All my boss is going to see is the word “disappointing!” How am I supposed to explain that?

Consider the following:

What characteristics of helpful evaluations are evident in this scenario?
What characteristics of helpful evaluations are lacking in this scenario?
What advice would you give the adult educator with regard to use of assessments and/or giving effective feedback?
What would you do next if you were the adult educator in this situation?
What lessons or insights can you gain from this scenario that may help in you working with your adult learners?

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