03 January 2007

Leverage Student Feedback to Improve Academics

In Quality Counts 2007 From Cradle to Career, Education Week, it was reported that a consistent lack of communication contributes to students becoming lost and not succeeding in public elementary and secondary education. Whether a purchase is done online or in a store, chances are after the sale an opportunity arises to take one type of customer survey or another, because the company making the purchased product wants to understand the rationale behind the purchase and learn about customer satisfaction. Nowadays, businesses make a concerted effort to learn about their customers. In contrast, the business of public education does little to pinpoint the teaching methods that support behaviors and cognitive processes to help customers, the students, learn. I'm not advocating more or different tests to examine what content students learn, however; I am pointing out the necessity of identifying what classroom activities/methods produce the most effective learning environment for new concepts.

Instead of focusing on building new tests to measure content assimilation, we need to focus our efforts on understanding what works in each teachers’ classroom to reinforce knowledge transfer by collecting student feedback. Comprehending the success of classroom instruction is more than criteria reference testing. Collecting reliable and valid feedback means all students are given an opportunity to respond to questions dealing with classroom instruction they received in every class. The activities in math class that support a student in learning may not work in their English class. To have a sensible and meaningful dialogue about student learning for improving academic progress, we must include appropriate student feedback into the equation.

School districts of all sizes, can benefit from outsourcing administrative functions, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Indeed, there is an urgent need to use pertinent student feedback in evaluating classroom learning, which can be easily accomplished using Internet based surveys to generate comprehensive reports.

Let us hope that the decision makers in education see the light and begin listening to their customers.

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