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Sajan Bar’s Reflection

My experience with real time feedback:

STEM courses can be intimidating spaces. Often students are afraid to feel “stupid” in front of their professors or they may fear the judgement of their peers if they answer questions wrongly. If, however, students are reassured that the classroom is a space in which they can take risks without penalty, and they are given corrective feedback to a wrong answer in a positive and supportive tone (and the instructors pause to re-explain the material or the process of solving a problem), the students may be more likely to engage, take risks, and seek out help when they are confused. The classroom environment matters to my learning and so does the tone in which the feedback is given. Ideally the environment is supportive and professors are understanding that I am still learning new course material and skills and learning from my mistakes. 

Suggestions:

  • Check students’ understanding of class material & provide explanations as needed
  • Pause so students can process their learning and ask clarifying questions
  • Have the TAs answer questions/ manage the chat during class (Especially in large lectures)
  • Encourage students to seek out help when they need it

My experience with feedback on exams:

Often it is up to me to make sense of my exams. I am given a grade based on what I got correct, but there are minimal comments about what I did wrong or didn’t understand. I would benefit from better understanding what was incorrect and more feedback to guide my improvement. I have found it tremendously helpful when instructors and/or TAs share common mistakes made on prior exams and then walk through sample problems, and the why and how to solve them. This helps turn taking and studying for exams into a learning experience so I get more than just a grade out of it. Reviewing the material and my exam approach helps in the long run as I complete future exams. Taking the time to reflect on my work with short exam wrappers has allowed me to assess where I have gone right and wrong. My hope is that spaces for students to go over and relearn material after an exam will grow.

Suggestions:

  • Provide old exams with worked through solutions & write out common mistakes on the answer keys
  • Annotate exams and return them to students, or host post-exam review sessions (office hours can be used) to allow them to come see their graded exams so they can understand where they went wrong
  • Use exam wrappers for students to reflect on their own progress in a class 

My experiences with using the feedback received:

I typically need time to process feedback in order to effectively use it to make improvements on my work. If feedback is given to me right before a deadline, once an assignment has already been completed and graded, or at the end of the course, it is too late to be helpful. Given that STEM courses can be fast paced and include a lot of content, it is important for feedback to be given periodically, and for assignments to be spread out so that students have time to understand their prior mistakes and learn from them. In the future, I hope students can take time with their classmates to review their work and understand their mistakes before rushing onto the next topics because much of the material builds on itself and not understanding initial concepts has been really tough on me long term.

Suggestions:

  • Create opportunities for students to go back and understand what they did wrong. For example, encourage students to correct what they got wrong on an exam (this can be done collaboratively) giving a few points for correct revisions. Reflection and correction allows students to focus on learning from their mistakes versus getting upset with their grades.
  • Break up cumulative assignments into those that allow for feedback (Ex: Initial Project design, Rough Draft, and Final Project with feedback for each)