Evaluating the feedback you give to students is an important task. You can do this by consulting with colleagues and by self-reflection. Feedback is an essential part of effective engagement in Student Affairs. It can lead to discovery of the impact of student success programs on retention and support initiatives. Think about it. In an environment where just about every initiative affects a students’ ability to persist, how can we know which programs or interventions made an impact on any given individuals’ outcomes?
We know both from our experiences and from research, that feedback is essential; we are better off seeing where we are at in our jobs, than not knowing. Professor Hattie at the University of Melbourne, Australia believes that feedback must be timely, relevant and action-oriented. She reminds us “that students want feedback just for them, just in time, and just to nudge forward”. Here are a few reasons why you need to evaluate feedback.
How and why?
How and why should Student Affairs Professionals evaluate the feedback that we give to our cohort of students? As professionals we must capture the attitudes, abilities, likes/dislikes and needs of our students to reflect on and improve best practice. Next we must self-reflect to see whether or not our objectives are specific, timely, and goal oriented. For example, it is necessary to evaluate all questionnaires given to freshmen and even their parents (at orientation) to discover if we met their needs. Did they have a great understanding of the distinctive college experiences that are offered such as wide ranging academic programs, clubs, resources, proximity to shopping mall, banks, etc.?
Focus your work
Think of the process as one that will better assist you in being able to communicate the value of your work, as well as focus your work. Evaluation makes you focus on the core outcomes you want to have for the students with which you are working . This is really important for keeping you accountable with the program categories that you work with. Examples are, Academic Advising, Housing, Enrollment Management, Orientation, etc. It’s too easy to get caught up in logistics and lose sight of the changes we’re trying to make.
Know if it’s working
You want to know whether the program categories are making the changes to student’s as they should. You can’t know unless you evaluate. Likewise, you need to learn to be adaptable. Evaluating feedback will allow you to see the bigger picture, modify your responses to be student friendly and to respond to needs of those you are working with.