Driving Faculty Development: How Can Formative Feedback Help?
By Gil Gruber
Effective instructors are one of the hallmarks of successful higher education institutions (HEIs) and fundamental to the teaching and learning philosophy. In an era of heightened accountability, rising pressure for instructors to continuously improve the quality of their practices stems from increasing competition for students. As with all aspects of learning, feedback plays a key role - particularly formative feedback from students - in providing ongoing opportunities for instructors to monitor and develop their practices. This article explores the ways in which a formative feedback tool like Bluepulse 2 can be a highly effective core element of an institution’s faculty development strategy.
On-Going Support of Teaching Goals: Instructors, particularly those starting their careers, need feedback. They need to know whether they are on track to meet their goals or have to make adjustments in their methodology. Typically, instructors receive feedback about teaching every three months, in end-of-term evaluations. After making improvements to their instruction they have to teach for another full semester before they know if the changes made are working. On average, the cycle of the improvement process could take up to two years. This can be challenging for instructors working to improve their performance and frustrating when end-of-term evaluation results do not meet their desired outcome.
With a tool like Bluepulse 2, instructors can start the feedback process immediately. Using the start-stop-continue feedback technique, Bluepulse 2 allows instructors to measure their goals throughout the semester by asking students:
- What they should start doing to improve learning?
- What they should stop doing to improve learning?
- What they should continue doing that is helpful to learning?
Bluepulse 2 can help instructors identify and fix any ‘blind spots’ in their teaching practices before they show up on end-of-term evaluations. If they observe a dip in results, instructors can follow-up immediately with their students to see why ratings went down and make necessary adjustments. This open communication channel provides instructors with the data they need to accelerate their proficiency in teaching.
Monitor and Measure Improvement Indicators: At the end of each semester, instructors know that they are rated on certain criteria to determine whether or not the expected competencies are being met. These ratings can affect tenure and promotion decisions and are based on the results of specific summative evaluation questions. Knowing what these questions are in advance gives instructors a major advantage that have not been fully exploited – until now.
Using Bluepulse 2, instructors can take the summative questions, categorize them, and create a set of formative equivalents that touches on these categories. Based on evaluation results from the semester before they can prioritize areas of improvement to measure and monitor throughout the semester. By collecting regular student feedback using the start-stop-continue technique instructors can determine exactly where they stand before end-of-term and make any critical adjustments.
Perform Root Cause Analysis in Real-Time: When it comes to measuring instructor performance in the classroom one of the missing elements is the underlying cause of the results. Bluepulse 2 allows instructors to perform root cause analysis at the moment the feedback is received. Instructors can qualify the comment and dig deeper by sending tailored follow-up questions that addresses the low rating. By gathering this real-time feedback they can take action to provide support when and where students need it and in doing so improve their performance.
What are some other areas of improvement when it comes to faculty development at your institution? Comment below and let us know.
Chanel M. Sutherland
Marketing Content Specialist, eXplorance