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Evaluations - Negative, Positive, Constructive

After completing one of my three presentations a Ulearn I've received some evaluations.  I'm always a bit wary opening the evaluation doc/site as it's difficult to gauge how you've been received, especially in an action packed workshop were people might not necessarily voice how they're feeling or feel comfortable enough to answer questions at the time, but often have no problem with making their feelings known through an evaluation form.

The first workshop I ran with two colleagues at Permission to Play (the pre-conference section of Ulearn). We created a scenario for this workshop that involved learners (teachers in this case) trying to rescue lego people in any way possible.  Each team or table were given a box filled with missions and a whole lot of things they could use to solve those missions including a bit of technology.

We wanted to keep the situation fairly open in unstructured with as little guidance as possible to the 'right' answer.  Something that we're all passionate about giving students the opportunity to experience in the classroom.  More on why we chose that path in a later blog post.  We were aiming to give teachers the opportunity to experience how they might use some of the coding, robots, toys, and other maker equipment in their classrooms.

So now that you have some context behind it, onto the evaluations.

The vast majority of our evaluations were really positive about the way we'd setup the workshop.  A few of the key points teachers had made in their evaluations were:
- I'll use the scenarios in my classroom
- This was a great session, I really enjoyed it
- I can see how this would be transferred to the classroom
- Good opportunity to get hands on time with equipment
- We were able to do our own thing and then teachers could support us when we needed it
- Enjoyed the chance to collaborate
- I wish we had even more time to play, thank you

Some of the evaluations weren't as positive
- No value at all
- Too many tasks
- Would have liked more structure on how we were to work
- Lack of structure resulted in less learning opportunities
- Long session, could have been completed in half the time
- Short tutorial on each part of the box would have been helpful

My questions and thoughts around this... 
It was interesting reading the feedback, I was quick to want to reply to the comments that weren't glowing, wanting to question why they thought that.  I was particularly interested in the one person who didn't gain any value from the session.  

I found it really interesting that the negative feedback didn't come out until after the session, our impression of the people that were present was that they were all happy and gaining real value from what they were doing.  I didn't come across anyone that was prepared to say 'actually this isn't working for me.'

There were a few comments about needing more structure to the session.  I found this interesting because it's something that I wrestle with when giving any professional development - how much step by step instruction to teachers need and how is this different from working with children?

I knew a few people in the session quite well and was happy in the knowledge that they would be fine with the process we introduced.  The rest of the group I was unsure about. I wonder if time spent getting to know more about the group was needed.  I did ask a very basic group of questions about who was in the room but this didn't give us a lot of information about them as learners.  

Can a session ever please the whole group?  What's the best way to look at feedback from a session like this?  Is the feedback we gained a good picture of what went on and how people felt about the session?

Where to next?
There is plenty to take away from this feedback and implement into future sessions.  If we did it again perhaps a better balance between step by step and being really open ended is what is needed.  I wonder if having a place to gain step by step tutorials within the boxes we gave out would have been a good idea.  I'm keen to keep working on this format for PLD so watch this space.


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