Student feedback as a stimulus for whole school change

Year: 2013

Author: White, Bruce, Barnes, Alan, Lawson, Mike, Johnson, Wendy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The importance of the teacher in student learning has been well researched (Darling-Hammond, 2000) but the role of the student to inform teacher learning and school change, is not as well researched and research in the area can be problematic (Ludtke, 2009). The student role can be in the form of student evaluations and action research type projects, but this paper will look at a slightly different, more direct role. The paper will examine a process that occurred at a South Australian school which involved students actively participating in identifying what they perceived teachers were doing that helped them learn and how often they saw these practices in class and then communicating this directly to the teaching staff. The process was supported by a group of University researchers independent of the school who collected and analysed the data and supported the school student leaders to develop a presentation to the staff. The data collected was from the whole student body  and focussed on their perceptions of what helps their learning via an online survey.
 Data was also collected from teachers and students and used to examine the effectiveness of the process.   The teacher's responses to the process were collected via a feedback sheet after the presentation at the schools and a number of staff members were interviewed.  The students were surveyed over a five year period and asked what differences they had noticed in the teachers practice. The results indicated that overall the teachers were very supportive of the approach and felt that having the information coming directly from the students was quite challenging and motivating. The student data indicated significant increases in the practices identified as helpful over the 5 five years. The students also commented on a number of positive changes but also that there were inconsistencies in the implementation of change.