3 Variables That Profoundly Affect the Way We Respond to Feedback

As Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” But it would seem there are certain things that dictate our appetite for feedback. According to Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, the co-authors of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, there are specific variables that distort the way we perceive feedback from others.

The following is taken from the BIG Think clip above.

“The first is your Baseline. In the literature this is called set point sometimes. It’s sort of a ‘how happy or unhappy are you,’ in the absence of other events in your life. Where’s that level that you come back to?”

“… the reason this matters for feedback, particularly if you have a low set point or baseline, positive feedback can be muffled for you. The volume is turned down; it’s harder for you to hear it,”

Heen explains that the second variable is Swing, or how much we are moved off of our baseline by any feedback. And the third variable for effective feedback is Recovery, or how quickly we return to our baseline.

It is useful to consider these three factors in the classroom as well, providing us some further ways to consider the impact of feedback for learners. Additionally this helps us to remain focused on how we are making this relevant to individual learners.

You can read more about this here The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback | Think Tank | Big Think

5 Simple Questions To Encourage Student Voice

5 Questions

This is a recent resource I have shared on Twitter that has proven really useful and very popular with educators. Thanks to Rebecca Alber and Edutopia for sharing/creating the original.

You should complement this with some of the following great resources on questioning in the classroom.

Successful Teams Are More Open About Their Mistakes

Western Decay

A research study into the performance levels of hospital staff explored something unusual about the error rates that were recorded there. Amy Edmonson the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, shares more about her exploration:

“My first research project in graduate school explored the relationship between teamwork and errors (in hospitals), because errors are a critical input to organizational learning, especially in that setting. I assumed I’d find a negative relationship between teamwork and error rate.

Instead, I stumbled into quite a different discovery. The statistical results I obtained were the opposite of what I’d predicted. Well-led teams with good relationships were apparently making more mistakes; there was a significant correlation between teamwork and error rates—in what I initially considered “the wrong direction.”

This presented a puzzle. Did better-led teams really make more mistakes? I simply did not think that could be accurate. Why else might better teams have higher error rates?”

After some further exploration Edmonson hit upon what was taking place:

“In well-led teams, a climate of openness could make it easier to report and discuss errors—compared to teams with poor relationships or with punitive leaders. The good teams, according to this interpretation, don’t make more mistakes, they report more.”

Our attention is often drawn to encouraging cultures of innovation through more open mistake making – but perhaps it is more than just making the mistakes, taking risks and a have-a-go culture. We need to be open and encouraged to share them too.

Pic Western Decay by sleepinyourhat

The states of knowing and not knowing and the really interesting bits in between

Read, Read, Read

Last year I was attending a conference in Boston, US and was lucky enough to listen to Alec Couros, a Professor of Educational Technology and Media at the Faculty of Ed., University of Regina.

He described a time in a supermarket when his 5 year old son asked whether bananas on a tree grew with their tips facing up or facing down. I will let Alec describe what happened next and how he reacted to his son’s question:

“I didn’t actually know off-hand. But, being the connected father I am, I pulled out my iPhone, Googled it, and in less than 30 seconds, we were looking at photos of banana plants and we no longer had to wonder.

*We no longer had to wonder.*

I did that entirely wrong. At the very least, I could have asked my boy, “Well, which do you think son?” perhaps followed by “So, why do you think that?” But I didn’t. And because I didn’t, I messed up a great learning opportunity.”

During his talk Alec outlined how the states of “knowing” and “not knowing” are drawn together by the pervasive nature of technology.

I believe that in a time when technology provides unprecedented access to knowledge we need to be exploring the really interesting bits in between. Spending longer between posing a question / a state of wonder and the clarification of new or affirming knowledge.

We need more learning designed to unflinchingly explore the unknown, enquiry state and for much longer.

The brevity of not knowing, which Alec describes, often short circuits our opportunities for enquiry, for exploring and revealing our existing knowledge and perhaps discovering new and better ways to find things out.

It is the discerning application of technology in these instances that we should be developing with our students. To know when to ponder, mull and cogitate, working out something with others, and when to simply close the gap, “Google it” and do something with that new knowledge.

Making this type of choice will be the key to constructing knowledge in the future, alongside retaining an enduring curiosity for the world and what it is like to not know.

Pic Read, read, read. by cuellar