When evaluating programs and other educational interventions with students, it is important to make a distinction between two concepts: feedback and assessment. Although the types of questions you may ask in each of these categories may differ, the overall goal is how to design and execute effective experiences for students that are engaging and achieve educational outcomes. The following includes some distinctions that you may find useful, as well as some guiding questions that you could employ in reviewing your educational efforts. These questions can be used in the design of student surveys and assessments and as reflective prompts in your program planning and review.
Feedback is the overall reaction to an educational intervention, its logistics, and execution. Feedback can be helpful in determining if an intervention was practically effective. Some questions to ask one’s self may include:
- What did residents like about the intervention? What did they not like?
- Did the staff members feel the intervention went well (or not)? Why?
- Was the intervention engaging?
- Was the plan for the event or intervention clear? Did it account for all of the necessary details?
- Was the intervention easily executed?
- Were the resources required to execute the intervention readily available?
Assessment seeks to determine if learning occurred, what learning occurred, and if the learning relates to stated outcomes and objectives. Assessment in this sense requires a test for knowledge, skills, capacities, and abilities. Students can recall, state, or do what’s expected of them as a result of their participation in the educational intervention. Some questions to consider:
- Did learning occur? What did students learn?
- How did student learning evolve from the start of this intervention to its end? (pre-test/post-test? rubric?)
- Was this learning related to the stated outcomes of the intervention?
- What else was learned that may have fallen outside of the stated outcomes of the intervention?
Applying Feedback and Assessment to Improve Learning Plans
After collecting feedback and assessment data related to an educational intervention, this information can be used for improvement. Questions to reflect on include:
- How might the intervention be modified to be more engaging, relevant, and better executed?
- Are potential future facilitators and planners adequately equipped to execute this intervention? What knowledge, capacities, and skills are required?
- Do the identified outcomes and the intervention advance the appropriate learning goals?
- Are the identified outcomes developmentally appropriate for the audience?
- Are the identified outcomes reasonably achievable with this intervention?
- How might the intervention be modified to better fit the outcomes identified?
- Were the assessment questions appropriate to determine if the learning outcomes were achieved?
Asking these types of questions, and being clear on what you’re asking and why you’re asking it, can help in the design of educational programs and interventions with intentionality. Each residential education program is unique, and therefore each requires that you apply the specific lens of your educational priority, goals, and outcomes to each intervention in order to determine its effectiveness. Developing these feedback and assessment habits are an important goal in advancing student learning and one’s effectiveness in enhancing learning. When executed regularly, they aid in continuous improvement.