The best example of someone explaining the value of feedback I can remember was actually when the person didn’t even open their mouth.
Jamie Oliver had travelled to Sicily to guest chef in a famous local restaurant run by larger than life personality, Giovanni. After he finished the evening’s service Jamie eagerly collected feedback from the patrons, after which he debriefed with the owner in the small kitchen. The feedback (mostly positive) was returned on small slips of paper which were divided into positive and negative piles. Much to Jamie’s surprise Giovanni took all the positives and binned them, proceeding to stuff the negatives into the front pocket of his guest’s shirt.
The philosophical reflection follows as:
‘Throw away the good ones – they don’t mean nothing.Take the bad ones and go away and learn from it’
Check it out here - It's about 3 minutes and gets to the point pretty well ?
In this short blog I want to explain how you can collect better feedback and improve your results in the future.
1. Plan enough time for important self-reflection.
For anyone who is creating educational content, interactive or otherwise, the most important part of the experience is the feedback afterwards. This is because learners will only be able to consider their performance / emotions / participation when they are taking part in some self-reflection. If you aim to have learning outcomes, then it is important to discuss these specific outcomes with your participants.
The mistake we all make is usually to focus the bulk of the time on the activity itself, eschewing feedback to a short afterthought before we finish or move on to the next shiny thing. When planning be sure to include at least the same amount of time for self-reflection as for the activity itself.
2. Collect feedback during the session
How many of us are so worried about ‘taking up people’s time’ that we close a zoom call or let people walk out the door before finding out what they think? The answer is all of us, especially if we are already over running on time.
The key thing to do is to collect feedback during your session, ideally just after an activity. It also helps to have 4 / 5 questions to prompt participants in a non-directed way if you are not getting much interaction. This means that by the time you get to your evaluation at the end you should already have plenty of great information.
When it does come time to complete a survey then link people to it at the end of the session and tell them you would like them to fill it out – It really needs to be as soon as the session closes while the activities are still fresh in their heads.
3. Make it easy
The easiest way to prompt people to complete an evaluation form is to use Zoom webinar as this automatically re-directs users to a feedback page when they leave. The price tag however is not for everyone (£32.00+VAT per month on top of a premium license) and actually Google forms are just as good, but make sure to put the link in the chatbox then lead participants to it before you finish up.
When it comes to the form itself, keep it short, simple and focussed on collecting feedback on topics that you need feedback on. If you have tried a new activity then get feedback on it rather than on things that are tried, tested, and are working. Equally you might want to ask people ‘Please tell me about one new thing you have learned by being part of our session’ – Focussing on tangibles helps to collect people’s thoughts and feedback to paymasters in the aftermath. Overall, never underestimate the value of feedback as part of a training exercise. If you believe in creating meaningful educational experiences for people, then remember to start with your outcomes and work backwards from there. Hearing from a participant ‘…I came today to learn x and I now I know how to do x’ is your objective – creating simple and substantive opportunities for them to say that is the best way to get it.