Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Blog

It takes teamwork to make the dream work

Bridging the Gap for Teachers & Students

by Charity Dodd, Specialist, Learning and Leading at Battelle for Kids | Mar 28, 2016

Teachers throughout the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative (OAC), a network of 27 like-minded districts in rural Ohio, are using The Student Experience® Survey as a tool to gather valuable, real-time feedback about how their students experience the classroom. They also have access to an online course entitled “Student Motivation.” The course is building their understanding of each theme in The Student Experience Survey.

What value does student feedback offer?
When asked about why student motivation might be difficult to observe, here are some teachers’ responses: 

  • “Hope and belonging seem to be hardest to observe. I was surprised. I must have been living in a dream world because I was off. What I perceived and what the students reported were different.”
  • "The students are with us daily through the thick and the thin. Their feedback is what matters. It gives me formative data to adjust my instruction. I can consult with peers or principals and get ideas to improve or change. It’s the students’ feedback that drives the change.”

This is the power of surveying students about their classroom experiences. Student responses bridge the gap between teachers’ intentions and students’ perceptions. Student feedback can be powerful formative data for teachers.

What does this look like in the classroom?
One teacher, upon learning that her students didn’t feel like she knew about their interests, responded by giving an interest survey to learn more about her students and then planned activities based on their feedback.

The teacher saw how eagerly they participated in the activities and discussions now related to their interests. Reflecting on what she learned, she said “I will give this interest survey in the first few days of school so that I can relate to each of my students.”

What does this look like in a district?
One OAC district focusing on student motivation asked for specific professional learning for their teachers around hope and engagement. During this time teachers were able to look at building and district survey results. As a school team, they asked themselves, “What stands out?” and “Are there any surprises?” They examined areas where student feedback was strong and talked about ways to improve in those areas. They were able to collaborate with each other about strategies they may use to improve the growth opportunities identified from student feedback.

In response to low levels of classroom hope, one building is carving out more time in the day for students needing additional help. Teachers see students building more confidence in their skills as they learn teachers care about their future. This school found higher hope from the following year’s survey results.

Student feedback can provide new insight into the classroom teaching and learning experience. When combined with other measures, student feedback can be a powerful tool to inform teacher practice, improve outcomes, and the overall learning experience for students.