Feedback Discussion

Page Contents
  1. Logistics

Context: This lesson plan is from a weekly communication recitation that accompanies M.I.T.’s Real Analysis. This recitation is the last of the term. The first term it was offered this feedback discussion was combined with the recitation on advanced LaTeX topics, but the feedback was so useful that an entire recitation is now devoted to feedback discussion.

Authors: This recitation was suggested by Susan Ruff based on the end-of-term feedback sessions held by M.I.T.’s Dennis Freeman.

Objectives: To receive feedback from students on the effectiveness of the recitations.

Recitation: The recitation instructors lead a class discussion of how the term went, asking the students for feedback on various aspects of the term.

Logistics

The recitation instructors meet ahead of time to brainstorm questions for discussion. We usually ask questions about new teaching strategies we tried during the term or about ideas for improving aspects of the recitation we observed to not go as well as desired.

During the feedback session, in addition to asking the questions brainstormed in advance, we usually go through the semester schedule and ask students for their feedback on each specific recitation and assignment.

To gain a sense of the success of various aspect of the course, in addition to asking for comments we often also ask for a “thumbs-up” poll: students can respond with a thumb pointing up, down, or in the middle. Similarly, when students volunteer comments we sometimes gain a sense of the consensus by asking for a vote of how many other students agree with the comment. (Often calling a vote will prompt more students to volunteer their own comments.)

To create an informal and festive atmosphere, the instructors bring refreshments. Kyle Ormsby writes, “The students seemed to appreciate the cookies I made, but absolutely demolished the ample fruit supply.”

Because grades have not yet been submitted and we want honest feedback, we also give students an anonymous feedback form on which they may write during the feedback session. These forms are collected by a student at the end of the recitation and delivered to an office that forwards them to the recitation instructors only after grades have been submitted.

 

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MAA Mathematical Communication (mathcomm.org) is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics. The site originated in the MIT Department of Mathematics and was expanded through support from an NSF grant.