How Students Really Feel about Feedback

By Rachel Gintner - Monday, April 16, 2012, 12:10am

Tying together the results of my survey and the expectations I had for my research project on student perspective of professor commentary was actually a rather interesting process. I found that I was excited to see what students had to say about professor feedback.

I’d like to share some of the interesting data that I saw as a result of this voluntary survey sent out to St. Norbert English majors and minors.

For instance, when students are given the chance to have a rough draft before a final version of a paper, most do not discuss their paper with their professor when formulating their first draft, after receiving feedback, or in the process of revision for the next draft. Granted, a solid 45% of these students claimed that they “occasionally” get the opportunity to revise for a better grade, with “frequently and “rarely” getting to revise at a common percentage of 23%.

However, it was nice to see that most students take the liberty of revising more than what a professor believes should be changed when students receive feedback on a paper. When asked if they make changes that a professor does not advise or mark on the paper, 40% of students answered they “frequently” do so and 45% said they “occasionally” do so.

Another interesting tidbit, which I suppose should be obvious but surprised me, was that students value constructive criticism as long as it is paired with positive feedback. When asked what comments are most helpful to a student, comments that specify improvement, or comment on structure, organization, flow, and the thesis (argument) of a paper, are highly valued. At the same time, students also felt it was beneficial to have comments on what they did well and marked this as another valuable type of feedback.

I have more to share, but this is where my research ends for now. I think it would be interesting along with the numerical data to collect more journal or free-style data outlets for students. There seems to be a slight disconnect between what people check off and what people write in detail, as my survey varied between multiple choice/check box format and short/long answer. If willing to comply, students are very insightful and honest about professor feedback which says volumes more than the numerical data that can tend to overgeneralize a situation.

The google form was a really helpful tool to use in creating my survey, but I wish I had known more about it from the start!

(I took a mini detour, it seems, when I was compiling my data… this is my tangent, folks.

You see, I am not good with technology. I call my laptop computer a monster-baby because it’s old, heats up like crazy, is slow, can’t go anywhere without a fan, and the battery lasts about an hour off charge. But this is mostly besides the point.

The point is, my frustration with technology extends to myself and how dumb I can be sometimes. I never used google docs before this semester, so I was happy to discover the format of the google form to use for my survey. But what I failed to realize was that the fancy google form also puts together a summary of all your findings. Pie graphs, bar graphs, calculated totals and percentages.

Of course, I found this out after I put together my own spreadsheet, compiled the data, etc.

Thank goodness I perused the toolbar before I got all mathematical and started figuring out percentages!

Sigh. tangent over)

One Response to “How Students Really Feel about Feedback”

  1. Hannah Schmitt says:

    Your adventure with google docs sounds like something I’d do. I’m curious: do you think it would’ve been helpful if we’d briefly gone over how to use research tools like google docs or excel?

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