Ongoing feedback from learners about how a course is going is an essential component of Accessible Education, and something that we have emphasized throughout this resource. Feedback helps us identify what is working well, as well as any barriers or gaps that can be further addressed, which can improve teaching effectiveness and increase student engagement, motivation, retention, and success.
Formal course evaluations do not typically ask for feedback on accessibility and inclusion.
Few opportunities exist to offer commentary on the effectiveness and contribution of instructional support staff (e.g. course developers, Teaching Assistants, lab coordinators).
Ask students for feedback on barriers to accessibility and inclusion and how the course can better address their learning needs.
If you are working with a teaching team, consider developing feedback mechanisms that include questions about these important roles. Not only will this support TA/instructional staff education and instruction, these forms of documentation can also be incredibly beneficial to an employee’s future career search.
Limitations of Formal Feedback Mechanisms
While feedback at the end of a course is helpful for evaluation purposes and in future course redesign, it comes too late to modify a course in progress.
Gather feedback at several points over the course. For example:
Ask students about their learning needs and preferences during the first or second class to gain a better understanding of who is in your classroom.
The institutional course evaluation process only invites feedback in one way (online), resulting in low response rates and poor quality of information.
Use several different formats for requesting feedback. For example:
Invite a colleague to visit your class to offer feedback on your teaching practice.
Gather feedback in writing, orally, and anonymously from individual students and through group work and discussion.
Use various tools or materials like surveys, reflection prompts, and activities. Bring material for students to write on.
CASE STUDY: Respectfully and Responsibly Seeking and Implementing Feedback
People with disabilities and from other equity-seeking groups have been routinely excluded from feedback processes, decision-making realms, and positions of authority. Inclusion efforts have expanded in recent years, but are not always respectful.
Some common challenges include:
Asking a token member of a group for feedback while the wider impacted community is not informed or involved;
Being asked for feedback too late in a process for the feedback to be meaningfully implemented;
Being asked for the same sorts of feedback multiple times over by different groups, with little initiated change; and
Being asked to provide feedback that will result in very small and slow steps forward, rather than immediate and responsive redress.
It’s important to engage in feedback efforts respectfully and intentionally. Ask for feedback early from all students and provide multiple ways for them to offer this feedback, be transparent about what can and cannot be done in response to this feedback and why, identify actions that can be taken, and implement these actions immediately (Dolmage, 2005).
Continue Your Learning
In this film clip, Dr. Robert Fleisig describes the importance of uncovering how well students are learning. When students do not do well on a form of assessment, it’s important to find out and address the reasons why!
Listen to Dr. Ameil Joseph as he discusses the importance of seeking ongoing student feedback and facilitating an educational environment where students feel comfortable offering their input.