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A different approach to feedback

January 28th, 2010 3 comments

Glasgow love feedback. Everything we do we’re meant to feedback and evaluate whatever it was that we attended. Fair enough, it’s great if it affects the future of the course. Apparently it does, I’m not so sure. Our feedback generally involves a 1-5 rating scale, with 5 being “excellent” and 1 signifying “poor”.  We also get a little free box to add anything else we can think of.

By the end of about week 5 in first year I’m pretty sure most people can no longer be bothered giving feedback, despite the constant emails on the subject. Personally I think I’ve come up with a much better way to rate things we’re timetabled to attend. Something along the lines of:

Was <whatever> more useful than:

  1. Spending the time reading about the topic
  2. Spending the same amount of time at the gym
  3. Spending that valuable time in bed. Asleep. (Or whatever.)

The very good classes are the ones better than spending the time reading about the content. Classes which involve something practical almost certainly are better than reading it from a book – they’d probably score highly here. Lectures probably have to do a little bit more in order to get the top mark. The vast majority that I’ve experienced do not quite equate to me reading it from a book. Thankfully PBL has saved me from having these lectures as my principle method from which to learn. (Take home message – PBL = good).

Going to the gym is fairly productive, certainly for most people. There are a few who would rather sit in any lecture than go to the gym but we’ll consider them the minority. I could probably suggest those people need to go to the gym more, but that’s a bit nasty. A lecture which is better than going to the gym (but not quite as good as reading the topic) is doing not bad. Could be improved but that’s ok. That’s what feedback is for, yeah? The majority of lectures (and the non-practical classes) probably sit somewhere in here. Does the feedback have an effect? Who knows.

A class which is not quite as useful as spending the time in the gym is struggling a bit. This is when students start falling asleep.

This brings us on to the worst of all classes – the ones where you could be sleeping. And, considering the quality of the lecture, you’d be better doing so. There are always going to be the odd few who like ever lecture. They’re also the minority. Probably the minority in the minority from earlier. A sad number of classes fall in here. Can’t we make them better, please?

I’m sure it’s possible. I’m slowly becoming more interested in medical education perhaps because (I think) I can spot the problems or, perhaps because I think things could usually be better. There are many ways things could be improved, I’ll try to see if I can summarise the more obvious ones in a later post.

Out of interest though, is this just Glasgow? Do other students (medical or non) suffer terrible lectures?

And isn’t that a more useful type of feedback? Instead of being given a mark out of 5, wouldn’t you rather know students would rather be asleep than at that class? Hmm, frustration!

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