The phase of the project that can create the most stress for me is that phase known as “Student Feedback”. I worry that when I ask about the project, it could turn into an extended complaint session.
That said, today was pretty awesome. We employed the classic “Plus Delta” chart, but first, through a personal journal, we asked students to think about what they thought was positive about the project (somewhat described here), and what they would change. Then we went on to have a public conversation about those same items. In general, the students (1) really liked the project, and (2) had an odd air about them, as though they were surprised that they liked it. It was kind of funny.
To be sure, there were some items that we will definitely change for next year, but some of the positives were noteworthy:
- Several liked how all the subjects connected to one another
- A couple pointed out that this was a project that if you put a lot into it, you ended up with a much better project. “Working on this at home made a positive difference in the project” (shock!)
- The learning logs provided a great structure for tracking work in the group
- Several liked the roles (that we totally stole from Columbus Signature Academy, btw)
- The development of the rubric with the students, and being able to edit the rubric
The suggested changes that stood out to me:
- Work on the roles so that they are both more consistent, but students aren’t always constrained to them.
- Less focus on the many management documents
- Don’t start on the biodiversity – start on legislation. (Don’t think I agree with this one…but it did alert us to our messaging. We gave them the legislative stuff fairly early on, but they didn’t pay much attention, because they were working on other stuff. Classic example of Paul Curtis’s point – students will address the learning when they need to know it.)
While listening to the suggested changes, I had to bite my tongue to avoid justifying our decisions, but in general, the students were great about their feedback – they were respectful, and their input was directed at improving the educational experience.
Our final question: “Should we run this again? Give us a thumb’s up, thumb sideways, or thumbs down.” One thumb sideways. All others up.