The workshop day had come to an end. Tired but content, I decided to quickly scan the evaluation surveys before grabbing a taxi.
As I breezed through the surveys, one in particular caught my eye. The participant had given me the highest marks in every category but then added in big bold letters
I LIKED YOU BETTER AS A BLONDE!
As a public speaker and talent developer, I work with thousands of adult learners every year. Most of them provide me with written feedback about their learning experience. I work diligently at designing survey questions that yield helpful feedback, but I always add an open-ended “Additional comments” space. This gives the participants a chance to tell me something that I might not have anticipated in my Likert-style questions.
Over the years I have saved the comments that most surprised me. Here are my top 3 shockers:
Most of the time, the open-ended comments are complimentary about the day. While I am not seeking compliments, they are always a pleasure to read. However, occasionally, a participant will write something that helps me to improve my teaching. It might be:
“I was hoping for more networking time”
“Is there any way to get a copy of the article about…”
“I don’t like group work. I would rather work by myself.”
Of course, I don’t change something just because one person shares a criticism or suggestion. It’s my role to look outward for patterns in the comments, and to look inward to my own feelings and understanding about adult learners. It is this constant reflection that leads me to improvement.
How do you gather helpful feedback from your classes or presentations?
Find specific evaluation questions in my book “Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Training.”
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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