Yarin Reindorp’s Reflection
As a student, I put enormous amounts of time and effort into my work. From semester to semester, I feel and see the progress I am making, the challenges I overcome. I am learning from my learning. With that, I feel that despite the fact that my instructors are always there for me, an overwhelming amount of the feedback and critique that my work calls for, I do on my own. And while that is a profoundly important experience, I have often felt that more feedback from my instructors could make my work more effective and meaningful.
As a STEM student, I have found that the little feedback I receive on my exams/ assignments leaves room for repeated errors on my part. Simply marking wrong answers off hasn’t always helped me develop an understanding of the areas in which I can improve, and undetailed answer keys often would not allow me to even get a sense for where I went wrong. As a former instructor myself, I feel for instructors who need to grade dozens of exams in large STEM lecture classes. With that said, I have had experiences in such classes in which effectively delivered feedback made my learning experience ever so meaningful.
Here are a few examples and suggestions:
- Provide detailed answer keys – the more detail, the better. E.g., Answer keys that make reference to class notes/ resources where we previously encountered the concept or a similar problem.
- Share grading rubrics that specify point value distribution between correct answers, explanation etc. or lay out the rationale when appropriate.
- Arrange post-exam review sessions in which the instructor goes over common mistakes made on the exam.
- Arrange strategy sessions where instructors demonstrate how they would approach an exam question (live or in a recorded video).
- Provide instructor-led forums in which students can reflect on past exams and ask questions. Instructors can highlight their rationale, ways of thinking about problems, strategies, etc.
- Provide a platform for students to share how they approach challenging problems – e.g., through discussion boards, class surveys, study lounges, and office hours.
- Give positive feedback and encouragement! Identifying what a student did well on an assignment and highlighting it to them can go a long way.
I believe that with more focused feedback strategies, my fellow students and I can take more from the experience of taking an exam. If every assignment/ exam could turn into an opportunity to not only correct my thinking about the particular problems I encountered, but also to understand the patterns in my approach that might hinder my potential for improving, both my performance and learning experience can be enhanced beyond imagination.
We have a lot to learn from our instructors and getting their feedback is an extremely meaningful step in our growth academically and personally. We thirst for it. While there are challenges to delivering tailored feedback to all students especially in large classes, I believe that with more guidance and focused feedback from instructors, we can become more effective and passionate learners.