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Gathering feedback about key competencies in learning

There are a number of reasons for getting feedback from students that are relevant for key competencies:

  • Students’ experience of learning, as well as outcomes, matters.
  • Students’ perceptions of what happens in the classroom can, at times, differ from how teachers might describe it.
  • Students may, for various reasons, not share their views about learning unless explicitly invited to do so.

What to gather feedback about?

Sometimes, asking directly about what you are interested in may not be the most successful way to find out about it. Asking students how well key competencies are going in their classroom, for example, may not yield interesting information. But asking about other important aspects of the key competencies may give a more useful indication about key competencies in your programme. 

Five possible indicators of key competencies to ask about are:

  • Relevance
  • Interest
  • Motivation
  • Application
  • Inclination

What to focus on?

It is useful to gather feedback at various points in time:

What to focus on.
  • about a specific activity
  • about a lesson
  • about a sequence of lessons
  • at the end of a term or year.

Ways to gather feedback from students

Student ratings

Student ratings provide a quick and easy means of gathering information from a whole class or wider group of students. Short questionnaires can be given on paper or set up online (using Survey Monkey, for example) to make analysing responses easy.

Students could be asked to rate: 

  • their agreement with statements that indicate their involvement and interest in the programme
  • the frequency with which they apply their learning in relevant contexts
  • the extent to which adults and students are responsible for organising events that provide authentic learning opportunities.
Interest and involvement 
  Strongly disagree Disagree Agree Strongly agree
I feel like I am allowed to suggest things to learn about        
I feel like I am allowed to suggest activities to do        
I am really interested in the things we do in class        
I spend a lot of time waiting in class        
I think it's up to the teacher to decide what activities we do        
Relevance of learning
  Never Sometimes Often Very often
I get to use the learning I do at school in other places.        
At school, we think about things that are going on in the local community.        
At school, we think about things that are going on in New Zealand.        
At school, we think about things that are going on in the world.        
As part of my learning, I get to do things in the local community.        
As part of my learning, I interact with others around the country.        
As part of my learning, I interact with others around the world.        
Responsibility for organising – authentic, meaningful tasks
  Who is responsible for organising events and activities that happen in your school?
Example events Only adults Mainly adults Adults and students together Mainly students Only students
Cross-country team          
Inter-school sports competition          
School trip to the zoo          
School disco          
Art exhibition          
Athletics day          
  0 1 2 3 4+
How many times in the last term has your learning involved:          
A visiting expert coming to the class (for example, historian, scientist, musician, journalist)          
A parent with expertise sharing their skills          
Going to an interesting place close to school          
Going to an interesting place (real, or virtually) somewhere else in New Zealand          
Interest and motivation
Interest and motivation table.

Postbox sentence starters

Sentence starters are way of getting feedback quickly and easily at the end of a day, or week, or term. Students can write their feedback on a small piece of paper, gathered, for example, in a feedback postbox, with or without their names.

Providing sentence starters (either in writing on the paper, or orally) makes it easier for students to respond. Continuing on from a sentence starter gives the prompt that many need to express their view. (Some examples below.)

Postbox sentence starters.

View a text version of this diagram.

Photo response

Photographs from real classroom experiences are a useful resource to prompt students feedback. They may be used to getting feedback in a one-on-one discussion, a group or class discussion, or independently of the teacher using ICTs.

The photograph may be of, for example:

  • a group working on a task
  • an individual working on a task
  • a shared classroom experience
  • a learning experience outside the classroom.

The photo can then be used in a discussion with students to find out about:

  • relevance – ‘What was the point of what you were doing?’
  • interest – ‘Was this interesting or not?  Why?’
  • motivation – ‘Why were you doing this?’
  • application – ‘How might you use what you were thinking about in other situations?’
  • inclination – ‘Do you think you’ll carry on learning about this?’

Updated on: 31 May 2011