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Feedback Beyond Likes.

posted Nov 11, 2016, 12:30 PM by Brian Hamm

We all like “Likes”, and social media does little to discourage this shallow form of feedback, but when applied to the feedback in an educational context, it has little value while developing meaningful representations of learning. In this article we are going introduce you to five formats for feedback which you and your students can use to move beyond “Likes”. 

“P.Q.P”: Praise, Question, Polish. Advise your students to give peer feedback with structure, to encourage further discussion and project development over time. This also gives educators a method of evaluation of feedback beyond participation. 

2. Specific and Kind: This model works well while developing representations of learning, projects, with a specific outcome in mind. For example, in the Austin’s Butterfly video, students were asked to draw an animal of their choice which historically they would illustrate and turn in for grading with little or no feedback. It is amazing to see that by allowing multiple drafts, giving specific feedback which is kind, students are more willing to try again and their representations of learning increase in quality dramatically. 

3. User Focused Feedback:
When we leverage the Design Process for creativity or product development, our feedback needs to focus on the experience of the user, not the rubric. Now this can be difficult for students and teachers to fully comprehend, but failure to do so can negatively impact what could be a meaningful project. During the Discovery Phase (Research), it is critical to tease out drivers and constraints which will purposefully guide the development of your iteration and prototyping phase. While developing these ideas and prototypes, it is essential to tie the evaluation and evolution of them directly back to the drivers and constraints. For example, while redesigning the ice cream scoop with IDEO, Zyliss discovered that essential element to enhancing the ice cream eating experience was the “likability” of the Ice Cream Scoop. Thus, “likability” became the driver for design which all prototypes were evaluated against. Each time a user experienced the new ice cream scoop, they would be asked to rank, the likability of the utensil. This would drive the next prototype, and the next, and so on and so on for 100+ prototypes prior to the launch of the product. This is how we encourage creativity, by offering multiple iterations, attempts in learning, which are directly related to a user's needs and experience. This encourages students to build prototypes to learn from, listen for meaning, and build empathy. 

4. One Word Feedback: For the most part, it’s harder for us to summarize how we feel or what we think in one word than it is to talk about it for 10 minutes. If you want to get to the essence of how a group or person feels about an experience, ask them to describe it in one word. For example, when we redesign learning spaces we ask users to “describe in one word” how walking into the classroom makes them feel. We then take them through the Discovery phase to tease out the emotions which are essential for creativity and learning, then design prototypes to enhance these drivers which we will evaluate to. We find that when we just asked how the experience makes them feel, we don’t get feedback directly connected to the driver we are seeking feedback on, and the user tends to get off track. We find One Word Feedback offers quick, useful, direct feedback, which quickly driver iterations to where they need to go, creating an inspiring learning experience. 

5. Democratic Feedback: Depending on the user experience being developed, sometimes all you need is likes, views, and comments to move a prototype forward. Believe it or not, your students understand this. This is how social media and many of the video games they play work. Roblox is an extreme example, a MMOG (Massive multiplayer online game) with over 4.5 million active users which is impressive, but what really makes this platform worthy of reference is that all games are created democratically, by the users. To date, users have created over 15 million games which are ranked solely by likes and dislikes.  Currently, 13,000 users are playing the most popular game now. Games evolve multiple times a day based on users rankings and feedback and your students love it. 

Now how can you apply Democratic Feedback to education? If you are asking your students to create videos, presentations, publications, etc., then is it possible to include likes, views, and comments, from an authentic audience, as part of the assessment? Your students will ask how many likes, views, comments do they need for full marks. To which I always responded with; “how many friends do you have on Facebook?” My argument is, if what you are creating isn’t interesting to the majority of the friends you have on social media, then start over. Learning needs to impact students lives and social media is a large part of that. Give them the opportunity to democratically receive feedback by truly valuing it and you will see the quality of projects increase.   

Feedback is essential to learning and shortening the feedback loop is central to the effectiveness of feedback. As we progress to standards-based grading and reporting, grading and giving feedback to the standards will become a normal practice, but if we want students to give feedback that matters, we need to give them a structure to do so. If you have one that works for you, please share via the comments section.