Blog: Idea Exchange

Using Feedback Loops to Assess Educator Dispositions

In our teacher education program at Central College, we’ve developed a data-driven method for assessing educator dispositions at different levels using feedback loops in Taskstream by Watermark™.

The ease of creating and sharing electronic forms and rubrics in Taskstream by Watermark, as well as the robust data management and reporting tools, allow our program to involve practicing teachers, tenured faculty, instructors, and students in the assessment process by using feedback loops.

A feedback loop is essentially a control system that allows for immediate feedback and adjustment according to the desired output. In human terms, Thomas Goetz (2011), states that the basic premise is simple: “Provide people with information about their actions in real time (or something close to it), then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors” (p. 130). The more often the feedback loop is run, the more often small actions approach large changes.

These feedback loops transform scattered data into a sustainable assessment system through four stages (evidence, relevance, consequence, and action) that inform our program evaluation activities and help us align with  accreditation standards. The implementation of these important dispositions not only allows us to give feedback to candidates as they progress through the teacher education program—it bears directly on program curriculum, instruction, and practice.

Through our efforts, we’ve identified several critical components that must be considered to effectively reproduce iterative feedback loops at other institutions:

  • Dispositions must be defined in measurable and observable behaviors that align with the conceptual framework of an educational program.
  • Feedback loops should be defined to move from basic to complex behaviors in a developmental fashion. Like all feedback, these loops should be intentionally supported within the program’s curriculum and field experiences.
  • Using feedback loops by necessity requires a management system that is clearly defined and reliable, with direct data collection and management of raw data into reports that yield useful information. Taskstream by Watermark offers such a system.

The feedback loops we developed in Taskstream by Watermark provide a comprehensive, sustainable system of support for our students’ responsive professional practice and our programs’ continuous improvement. The observable and measurable dispositions we assessed with this methodology in the Central College Education department are developmental in design and practice, and details of our feedback loops are discussed in the accompanying paper.

Download the full paper to read more about our approach, findings, and conclusions.