Feedback of students

Yesterday, at the end of a series of lectures on human ecology, a lecturer uttered just after her own talk when the audience had left, that it is a pity that lecturers get so little feedback from the students, especially during one’s talk.

When I heard that my liar’s heart began to jump, my ears got spocky and my eyes made themselves ready to gleam into the bitter darkness of self-reference.

Fortunately, the lecturer did not hesitate to provide us with some possible explanations: It was late in the evening. It was the end of term. And, students are used to be quiet, they are rarely asked for feedback anyway, so how should they know.

When you have lost your key Paul Watzlawick unforgettably — I thought — showed us how ridicule it is to look for it where the lantern is shining instead of the place where you probably have lost it.

Apparently, self-reference hurts like hell. Maybe, I should have been nice by adding some more far away explanations: The lecture hall is to blame. The chairs, the tables, the light, and the air, they are all bad (and they are). Students do not know the importance of drinking during lectures. They have never learned to concentrate. They are distracting each other. They are having too much fun at nights. Or, yes, I have heard that often: They are just more stupid these days. No, it’s not their fault. It’s because primary school is bad, and the parents are to blame, too, of course.


If someone is asking for feedback she or he should be prepared to learn about themselves. If a lecturer is talking to an audience there is always feedback, especially if there is none (that is “none” in the sense of the one who is bemoaning it).

Of course, many explanations can be found. All are somehow involved. And mine are lies anyway. But for the sake of it, here are some explanations that lecturers may want to avoid like the plague:

  • Lecturers are talking too fast, or not loud enough.
  • The slides are badly prepared, and they are shown too fast.
  • The information provided is asking for too much of the students.
  • The contents are too dense and too complicated.
  • Concepts have been simplified too much, so they lost their coherence.
  • Or, maybe, part of the contents is plain wrong.
  • The talk is peppered with technical terms.
  • The lecturers’ gestures signal uncertainty and weariness.
  • They are reading out instead of talking freely.
  • They are not looking at the students but on their laptops.
  • Lecturers are simply not asking for feedback.
  • If there is feedback they are not answering in an encouraging manner.
  • And, I am sure, others can come up with more.

One explanation is left to me, though:
I believe they are no liars. It’s just me.

By the way, your feedback is welcome.

One Response to “Feedback of students”

  1. rattus says:

    What does feedback tell us? Do we need feedback about feedback? Where do the troubles with feedback start, where do they end?