Student feedback on whiteboarding

I’ve been using Whiteboarding for a while now (as mentioned in some previous blog posts) and I wanted to reflect on some student feedback and elicit some input from modelers and whiteboarders out there about a question/comment from a student.

For Topic 9 in my DP Chemistry class, I used whiteboarding extensively for helping students draw voltaic and electrolytic cells. After their test, I asked them for some feedback. But first, in terms of test results, I’d say this is the best I’ve ever taught Topic 9, but there were still some mistakes with the voltaic and electrolytic cells, so I need to modify how I used whiteboarding next time.

The students gave a numerical answer to the following question, “On a scale from 1-4, how helpful were the ‘whiteboarding’ sessions where you practiced drawing voltaic and electrolytic cells?” The average rating was 3.57, with 7 students responding out of a class of 12. I assigned the SkyDrive survey as homework after the test. It included a question about review for our last Friday class before the holiday. Students completed the survey anonymously.

Below are some student comments with my reflection:

  • “Whiteboarding helped me with 9.4 and 9.5.”
    • 9.4 and 9.5 involve voltaic and electrolytic cells, so I was glad to see this student recognize my goals in using the whiteboarding. Based on overall test scores, it wasn’t quite enough, but it was a step in the right direction.
  • “It is a really good way of learning visual things as we can actually draw them and see how they work, rather than just reading them on paper.”
    • I was also really glad to see the students recognize the benefit of whiteboarding for the concepts that are more visual.
  • “I gave a 2 because I felt like I wasn’t doing any of the thinking for coming up with the voltaic/electrolytic cell since my thinking wasn’t as fast paced as that of my classmates. Maybe if we had the chance to try it on our own first in the future?”
    • So this brings me to a question for you modelers and whiteboarders. This student has a legitimate point about whiteboarding. In the context of using it for Topic 9, I typically only did one or  two problems each day. Normally, I might do multiple problems and ask students to rotate who controls the pen. But for this topic, that didn’t happen. This student is suggesting some individual work following by group discussion. That’s similar to a review technique I use with Learning Catalytics (a version of clickers, blogged about here) and I think this group of students really likes the structure of these review sessions where students think on their own first, then talk about their answers.

My overall thoughts on whiteboarding haven’t changed. I still think it is a valuable learning tool. I appreciate this student’s honest feeback, though, to make sure I attend to the needs of individual learning styles by varying the details.

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