Higher Ed: Effective Correction

Sep 30, 2018

Most people do not necessarily enjoy being told when they are wrong. The formal education experience can at times seem like it is full of those moments - between corrections, grades, comments and evaluations.  In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss ways to correct without rejecting.

Those big, red X's splashed all over a Math test or those comments scribbled in the margins of papers can lead students to focus on the fact that they got an answer wrong, instead of the fact that they have a learning opportunity to master some material. And nasty comments from a student on a teacher or course evaluation may not motivate teachers to do better.

"If someone just says too much work, or, you know, Burger was so mean I can't stand him, that's not particularly helpful" says Ed referring to student evaluations of teachers. " And even if that's followed by an actual interesting idea, I might dismiss it a little bit because I see the context."

So how can students and teachers - and anybody, really -  effectively convey ideas for improvements?

Ed has some ideas:

  • Keep it about the question, paper, assignment, or class at hand. Don't elevate the criticism into something of broader scope.
  • Keep the situation focused on thoughtful - rather than purely emotion - inputs and responses.
  • Focus on what can be learned from the situation.

Listen to the full episode for more thoughts about both giving and receiving constructive corrections and to hear the solution to the puzzler about the digits of our left hand. Still trying to multiply the number of left hand digits of everyone on the planet? Turns out there is a quick and easy way to figure it out.

This episode was recorded on Aug. 9, 2018.

For all of the Higher Ed episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.