A learning-centred approach to session evaluation by Rachel Tsateri
Based on my experience as a trainee or webinar participant, I have noticed it is usually up to the trainer to decide whether a session has been successful or not. On some occasions, feedback is obtained from participants by using:
- exit tickets, i.e., little slips of paper with questions about the session which participants complete before leaving.
- Google Jamboard for anonymous feedback in the online environment.
- Online Zoom polls launched at the end, asking to what extent the session was useful.
- Mentimeter polls, requesting trainees to describe their experience using an adjective.
- Google form surveys sent by email after the session.
I have recently encountered a meaningful and engaging activity in Wright and Bolitho’s Trainer Development book (2007:197). The writers call it “What makes a Good Training session?” and they suggest using it in trainer training, to help participants explore characteristics of good training sessions.
I have adapted it and used it in teacher training; it resonates with me as it gives teachers total autonomy to evaluate sessions, without being “led” towards specific results. It has provided me with personalized feedback on my sessions. Last but not least, it affirms teachers’ worth by actively involving them in the evaluation process.
By the end of the session, teachers will have
- articulated their expectations of the session
- generated their own evaluation checklist
- evaluated the session against their own personal criteria
After stating your aims, provide a handout like the one attached below.
Teachers have 2 minutes to think of two or three things they hope to get out of the session.
They write them in the criteria column on the right. (See attached form.)
These will be their very own personalized criteria against which they can evaluate the session at the end.
Optional: you may give them 5 minutes to discuss and compare their expectations in groups.
Near the end of the session, ask teachers to go back to this handout and give them 10 minutes to think about whether their expectations were met, partially met or not met. Encourage them to include details in the comments box.
If there is time, you can elicit answers in plenary or simply collect the handouts, which will give you personalized feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the session.
Get anonymous feedback if this is your first session with the specific group, to reduce potential anxiety.
Consider group-led evaluation; ask 2 or more members to agree on a set of criteria and later decide together to what extent they were met.
Use their partially or not met responses, to help you design a follow-up session.
Contibutor: Rachel Tsateri from The TEFL Zone