Intentional instruction is a pillar of Outschool’s EPIC teaching framework. Part of thoughtfully planning curriculum is actively seeking out feedback from your most important reviewers: your learners! Asking your learners to share their thoughts, feelings, reactions, and hopes with you doesn’t just show intentionality; it empowers them to take an active role in their own learning and helps you build stronger connections with your classes. Transforming feedback into actionable change can help you develop even better passion-driven learning experiences and elevate your teaching to a higher level.
As an educator, you’re in the unique position of being able to receive instant feedback from learners throughout a class simply through observation. This informal self-assessment can be influenced by learners’ body language, participation trends, and general expression of interest or engagement throughout your instruction. But by conducting a more formal assessment of your learners’ expectations or experience in your class, you can dig into the details that will help you hone your skills and craft curriculum to meet your learners’ needs.
First: A Reminder About Personal Information
Always be conscious of protecting learner privacy and safety when designing survey questions. Learners should never be asked to share personal information with you or their classmates, as defined by our community standards.
Additionally, remember that learner surveys are always optional. You cannot require a learner or family to share information with you - though most will be happy to participate in a quick questionnaire from an educator they trust.
How to Create & Send Learner Surveys
When you’re designing your survey, remember to always phrase questions in a way that is appropriate for your age group. Younger learners may benefit from multiple-choice or rating questions (for example: “How did you feel in [educator name]’s class?” with images of different faces and emotions). Older learners will be able to grasp more complex statements and provide in-depth short answer responses to open-ended questions.
In general, you should make any survey long enough to gather the data you’d like to review, but short enough that learners will actually complete it. We all know a 100-question survey would make most kids roll their eyes - so keep it simple and to the point. If you’re looking for inspiration on what to ask, Edutopia is a great resource for surveys of all sorts!
Since all communication must occur through the Outschool classroom, the easiest way to send surveys and receive responses is via a word document or Google doc. Simply type up your questions and post the blank survey as a .docx file in your classroom. Instruct learners to download the template, fill it out on any word processing program, save it, and then re-upload their completed version! Best practice is to have learners send their completed survey directly to you, instead of post it publicly in the classroom.
Set yourself and your learners up for success before class even begins. By sending out pre-surveys with your welcome message, you can identify learners’ goals, interests, experience, learning styles, and more with a few intentional questions. With this information, you can design lesson plans that take into account the characteristics and objectives of your specific classroom community. By intentionally seeking out information about your learners, you can help them build relationships with one another and yourself as soon as that first meeting begins.
Some topics you may want to explore with your pre-surveys are:
- Why did learners choose to take this class? Find out what’s driving learners’ interest in your class! Questions on this topic can also prepare you for a situation where a less-than-enthusiastic learner’s parent chose the course for them.
- What goals do learners want to set for this class?
- What experience do learners have with [class topic]?
- Are learners nervous about any part of this class?
- What learning styles will be in your class? Help learners express how they learn best with simple multiple choice options (like: I learn best when I… a) read instructions, b) listen to the teacher, etc.).
- Learners’ likes, interests, and passions! Get-to-know-you questions can be a great way to find common ground and create touchpoints with future learners.
If you’re teaching an ongoing class, you can create a survey that you send to every new learner before they join your class for the first time. This can give you valuable information on how you might best welcome them into your classroom. Additionally, you could decide on a schedule for how often you’ll check in with core learners and evaluate your ongoing class curriculum.
Following the last meeting of a class section, take advantage of your learners’ fresh perspectives on their experience with a post-course survey. This type of survey will help you refine instruction and curriculum for a future section of that same class, or even help you find inspiration for your next hit course!
Some topics you may want to explore with a post-course survey are:
- What did learners enjoy most about this class?
- What do learners wish had been part of the class, but wasn’t?
- Did learners have a favorite or least-favorite activity/assignment?
- If learners could take another class on [class topic], what would it be?
- Would learners take another class with you? Why or why not?
- Did learners feel included and welcome in the classroom?
Once you’ve received your responses, then the fun begins! Time to turn those insights into next steps. Whether positive or constructive, classroom feedback is an incredible tool for learning more about yourself as an educator, discovering what you can improve on, and deciding how to best reach your specific audience on Outschool.