Frequent Performance Feedback
During the course of the term, students have opportunities to receive feedback at many points on the needs assessment, and from many sources (e.g., the community partners, instructors, and one another). Also, students submit documentation of their progress in accumulating hours by midterm to identify any need for intervention.
To encourage feedback within the teams and commitment to the project by all members, we use a policy that allows students to evaluate one another’s contributions to the team. Their average evaluation score determines a multiplier used with all of the team assignments, such that students’ grades will not be adversely affected by one student, but rather informed by a combined estimation of their teammates.
Faculty and Student Peers Interact About Substantive Matters
This high-impact practice is best illustrated with a description of the course schedule, because peer and faculty interaction is needed throughout the term as the assignments are developed. First, we require students to meet with their community partner for an orientation during the first three weeks of the term. Following this meeting, they submit a “Who, Where, and When report” describing their target date, setting, and audience for the presentation. This assignment provides them with a deadline that they determine for themselves in consultation with the community partner.
The needs assessment report is submitted next, in three phases over several weeks (see above). A teaching plan based upon the needs assessment is due two weeks to ten days before the scheduled presentation, and we provide class time to allow teams to describe their presentation to one another. This opportunity for feedback and interaction serves several purposes—the students gain confidence in their delivery and in their mastery of the content of the presentation by describing it with peers, and the presentations become higher quality through accessing the creativity and thoughtfulness of the entire class. Also, instructors can use this time to reflect with the entire class on potential pitfalls that might be present in a particular instructional approach or topic.
During the class immediately following the presentation, the instructor asks the team to describe how it went. When the team describes their impressions (e.g., “It went really well!”, “The audience was really engaged!”), the instructor requires students to articulate evidence by repeatedly inquiring of the students “How did you know [it went really well]?” and “What told you [the audience was engaged]?”
The instructor also inquires about students’ learning objectives and uses this opportunity to remind students about the distinction between process evaluation and outcome evaluation. Students are reminded to use evidence in their outcome evaluation report. The outcome evaluation report also requires students to visit their community partner a final time after the presentation and assess their learning outcomes, formally or informally.
The final assignment of the term, a self-reflection of strengths and growth areas as a family life educator, also requires substantive interaction with peers and the community partner. Students are required to select one team member and ask her or him for input, which provides an opportunity to develop skills in a frank discussion that might not arise during typical teamwork. Students also have a formal evaluation meeting with their community partner, who completes a standard form and provides them with verbal feedback.
Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2013). LEAP: Liberal education and America’s promise. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/leap/vision. cfm
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Kuh, G. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges and Universities.