Providing Meaningful Feedback

Giving meaningful, constructive feedback is one of the more difficult tasks that we have to do as teachers. To maintain objectivity, we often choose to use rubrics (usually with explanatory comments), but sometimes that just doesn’t convey the depth and breadth of feedback that we feel is necessary for further learning and growth.

This week I had the opportunity to share a technique that I have been using in my classroom for the last few years. It’s based on Edward de Bono’s Thinking Hats and is very useful when evaluating presentations, concept summaries, and even computer programs. Since one of the CEDP small group responsibilities is providing feedback to peers as they present a lesson plan, it was a perfect opportunity to stretch how we framed our observations and were able to provide more comprehensive, useful feedback.

Here’s what we did … each person was assigned a different ‘Hat’ to wear during a presentation. Depending on the colour of hat each observer was ‘wearing’ they focused on one particular aspect of the presentation in order to provide more specific, and therefore meaningful feedback. The role of each Hat is described below:

People wearing the White Hat objectively looked at the presentation … did it have the appropriate contents, was there a logical progression of topics, was it completed within the allotted time, and did it follow any prescribed methodology.

People wearing the Red Hat reported how the presentation made them feel … no explanation required.

Yellow Hat wearers watched and listened for things that the presenter did well and commented on why those things should be continued.

Black Hat wearers looked for things that detracted from the presentation. They cautioned the presenter about why these things reduced the effectiveness of delivery.

People wearing Green Hats looked for growth opportunities … things that might help the presenter improve different aspects of the presentation such as content, presentation style, and use of media).

The one Blue Hat wearer acted as the facilitator/manager. This person monitored the time and summarized the verbal feedback provided by wearers of the other Hats.

After a great session of presentations where we practiced (and got much better at )giving meaningful feedback, a link to this blog posting with a great mind map showing the Six Thinking Hats was waiting for me in my RSS feeds when I got home …

Mind Map of the Six Thinking Hats – Radiant Thinking meets Lateral Thinking | Mind Map Tutor

A little bit of synchronicity here??


About N. Nelson

A college professor with more than 30 years of teaching experience, I am constantly exploring how the current educational paradigm can be adapted to better meet the needs of today’s learners, while still reaching the mandate placed on us by the community and employers to prepare these students for life and careers beyond the college. I enjoy sharing my teaching experiences and expertise through Professional Development Workshops on topics such as Project-Based Learning, Flipping your Classroom, Impacting Student Success, Engaging Large Classes, and Stretching your Teaching Comfort Zone. I am also willing to share my experiences and expertise on the processes required to meet the updated CEAB engineering accreditation requirements.
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