Episode PA028: It’s Time to Make a Change-Exposing Feedback Assumptions: Interview with Dr. Kristen Wall

by Jim and Beth Harger | The Professional Adjunct Podcast

When it comes to feedback, what do students want? To help answer that question, Dr. Kristen Wall elaborates on five themes brought to light by her doctoral dissertation, which focused on at-risk adult students from millennials to baby boomers and linear and non-sequential learners.

“Adult students likely have prior experience and have opinions about what they want from their educational experience.”

Theme #1: Students desire substantive feedback: positive and negative.

“They have no tolerance for faculty members who don’t provide good [personalized, specific and measurable] feedback – vague academic terms mean nothing to them.” If they feel instructors are not giving adequate feedback, they will look to friends and family whether those people are appropriate subject matter experts or not. Right or wrong, they rely on Google a lot if instructors don’t provide a good example of what is expected.

Theme #2: Students are proactive [for getting answers].

Students come in with a measure of vulnerability. They do have something to prove and have reflected deeply on their motivation for going to school. “They want to be involved in a shared dialogue [and need to have their ideas valued].”

Theme #3: Students are reflective.

“Students are telling us what good teaching look like, how they define it, and what measurements they use.”

Theme #4: Students are aware of and often frustrated by the power differential faculty holds over them.

“We have a narrow window of time [with individual students]. It’s time to make a change.”

Theme #5: Faculty and students are reporting the same issues and assumptions exposing a gap in our understanding of each other and how to fix the problem.

Dr. Wall wraps up our conversation by addressing some of those assumptions and how we can close that gap.

Dr. Kristen Jensen Wall is the Director of Faculty Development at Colorado Christian University, a private Christian university in Lakewood, Colorado.  Her role includes providing professional development for approximately 600 adjunct faculty as well as scheduling courses and contracting faculty for almost 1700 classes per year.  She received her B.A. in Secondary Education from Concordia University Portland (Oregon), an M.A. in Adult Education from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and an Ed.D. in Adult and Postsecondary Education from the University of Wyoming.  She also teaches graduate education and undergraduate college orientation courses.  Her research interests include: student perceptions of faculty feedback, developing adult student writing skills, and teaching adults online.

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