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Teaching Strategies: Using Feedback to Promote Learning

Submitted by on July 11, 2014 – 10:33 PM

feedbackThe decision to take up education practicum was a long awaited dream. I always wanted to and thought myself in an educator’s role. May be that I got inbuilt skills and an itch to convey or transmit other nursing students what I had learnt from my teachers and how could I make it and deliver it in a better way.

 

A teacher’s job is commendable, I must say. I had never realized the efforts, the hard work and the dedication a committed teacher puts in to give best to her students. Putting myself in my preceptor’s shoes, I recognized how much it takes to prepare just one lecture. Not only that, how can it be made interesting for the students, but what can be done to keep the students engaged in the class, taking care of the diversity in the class.

 

Being prepared for the challenges that might come in the way is the biggest challenge in itself. Yet we as students are never satisfied. We blame our teachers if we don’t understand any concept in the class but we forget to pre read. When we fail or score low in any subject, again the teacher is blamed for either she did not put her efforts while teaching or she had deliberately given less marks without even knowing how many efforts and pains does it take to mark an assignment fairly doing justice to the students’ work.

 

During the period of my education practicum, I observed a positive change in myself, my approach towards teaching. My interest in teaching is inbuilt. This practicum gave me an opportunity to learn ways in which I could express and polish my skills of teaching. It felt so good to receive encouraging remarks from my preceptor while exchanging innovative ideas with her, learning new things from each other.

 

From preparing my first ever lecture for the class, its delivery, preparing quizzes, marking the objective and subjective assignments, giving and receiving feedback to and from the students gave me a sense of accomplishment. The enthusiasm for learning more and more continued when I received appreciation for revising the quiz and evaluation questions for the students. The item analysis andforming multiple choice questions(MCQs)for class during practicum helped me to gain deeper understanding when I practically experienced it with my preceptor. It was a good exercise when my preceptor asked me to think of and develop some of the strategies that she could use during her bio-statistics and research classes. Hence, the best thing I learnt from my preceptor was to be up to date with current knowledge and trends especially the courses that you are involved in and adopt innovative teaching strategies with current knowledge to give best to your students.

 

This was an account of the overall experience of the practicum. I will now discuss one of the experiences that I went through during the last two weeks of the practicum that insisted me to reflect on one of theresponsibilities of a teacher ingrading students’ assignments. The advantage of objective assessments is that they are easy to grade. While on the other hand, the subjective assessments are difficult to grade as they involve a great deal of subjectivity.

 

However, it is equally important to maintain transparency and fairness in teaching as well as grading students’ assignments. This time around, I got a chance to evaluate Literature Review assignments for the graduate students. I and my preceptor agreed that first I would evaluate each paper, put my comments and at the end mark each paper according to the marking grid. Before this task, I thoroughly reviewed the guidelines and evaluation criteria which were given to the students for this assignment.

 

While going through the guidelines, I realized that the guidelines were not very clear. Even the marking criteria had a portion of literary skills along with language as a separate criterion both of whichwere overlapping. I discussed both these issues with my preceptor to which she also agreed but since these guidelines were already shared and discussed thoroughly with the students, we decided to continue with it. The major issue that I encountered during correction of the assignments was language.

 

Since English is not our first language, perfection is not expected from the students however, it is important to realize the fact that wrong use of language or verbs can totally change the meaning of the sentence which could result in loss of marks. Equally important is the fact that graduate students are prepared for thesis writing and therefore they are expected to strive for the best in their assignments and inclusion of language as marking criteria is fair enough as it is expected from the graduate students.

 

While going through the assignments, I came across different patterns of assignments which I think was the result of unclear guidelines provided to the students. Though the students must have been briefed in class, nonetheless all assignments followed differently and that made their grading more difficult. This was the point where I realized the importance of clear guidelines or rubric not only for the students but for the teachers as well in order to maintain fairness and transparency while correcting those assignments.3A clear rubric does not only reduces the chances of subjectivity and bias but saves time, provides clear and specific information to the students about what is expected from them and provides them with substantial evidences for their grade or marks.1,4

 

Apart from the rubric, I feel that in cases like the one discussed above, where the students had not performed so well as expected, the teacher’s comprehensive feedback plays a vital role. While handing over the checked assignments to the students, they should be discussed thoroughly to identify what and where the theywent wrong and how can theydo better in their future assignments.2, 3It was sad to hear that these students had never received any checked assignments from their teachers in the previous term and therefore never received any feedback. Therefore this particular assignment was of particular significance for the students in terms of receiving thorough feedback.

 

When I and my preceptor reviewed the papers individually, we both first discussed each paper and then compiled the marks. There were not any major differences between our marks, however this was the case with a few of them which we clarified and I agreed to it.

 

From this whole exercise, I learnt that the subjective papers are the most difficult to grade and subjected to biases. However in this case as the names were not there, this was taken care of. Moreover, it took me at leastone hour to go through each paper for the first time while putting my comments simultaneously. However while grading; I skimmed through the assignments for the second time so that nothing could be missed and fairness could be maintained. It was no doubt a difficult job and I must salute my teachers whom we constantly blame for being unfair without realizing how much effort is needed to correct just one assignment.

 

To sum up, today I believe that this is not the end of the practicum; rather it is the beginning of a new journey. The practicum provided me several rich learning opportunities and experiences which will help me when I get a chance to join and serve as a nursing faculty.

 

References

 

  1. Allen, D., & Tanner, K. (2006). Rubrics: Tools for making learning goals and evaluation

criteria explicit for both teachers and learners. CBE-LifeSciences Education5(3), 197-203.

 

  1. Jonas-Dwyer, D., Siddiqui, Z. S. (2006). Feedback in Higher Education A Literature                                 Review. Medical teacher29(4), 297-300

 

  1. Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save

grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

 

  1. Zimmaro, D. M. (2004).Developing grading rubricsRetrieved from

http://slo.sbcc.edu/wp-content/uploads/developing_grading_rubrics.pdf

 

 

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