Using a PLUS/DELTA Assessment Technique

Student Feedback with the Plus/Delta and Critical Incident Questionnaire

You can learn a great deal about how your students are learning in a course, and what adjustments both you and your students might make, by asking your students to give your course a mid-term evaluation or periodic feedback.

One way to do this is by using a Plus/Delta feedback tool at the mid-term, the other is using the Critical Incident Questionnaire (Brookfield, 2017) periodically throughout the semester.

Both of these tools  are anonymously completed – the instructor reads these & reports main findings at start of next class with time for discussion (if needed).

Plus/Delta Assessment

The Plus/Delta feedback tool (sometimes called Plus/Change) is a means of identifying what is going well and what needs to be changed. The beauty of this tool is that it asks students to focus on what is working to advance their learning in the course and what could be improved by the teacher and by the student. It helps students to think about their responsibility to the course and what they should continue doing to learn (PLUS) and what they need to change for the course to improve for them (DELTA) (Helminski & Koberna, 1995).

Here’s how the Plus Delta works.

Students divide a sheet of paper into quadrants (similar to the table below).

  • On the top left quadrant the student identifies what is working to enhance learning in the course.
  • In the lower left quadrant the student writes what the student is doing to enhance their learning in the course.
  • In the upper right quadrant the student identifies what needs to change or improve in the course or teaching approach to enhance learning.
  • In the lower right quadrant the student identifies what they need to change or improve in order to enhance his or her own learning.

PLUS

DELTA

What is helping me to learn in this class?

What changes are needed in this course to improve learning?

What am I doing to improve my learning in the course?

What do I need to do to improve my learning in this course?

Brookfield Critical Incidence Questionnaire (CIQ)

The Critical Incident Questionnaire (Brookfield, 2017) is done periodically and has five questions:

  • At what moment in class did you feel most engaged with what was happening?
  • At what moment in the class were you most distanced from what was happening?
  • What action that anyone (teacher or student) took this week did you find most affirming or helpful?
  • What action that anyone took this week did you find most puzzling or confusing?
  • What about the class this week surprised you the most? (This could be about your reactions to what went on, something that someone did, or anything else

Or, use an anonymous survey tool for the Plus/Delta or CIQ

In Canvas you can access Canvas Commons to directly import either the Plus/Delta or the Critical Incident into your course, use the How do I import and view a Commons resource in Canvas? guide. Then, while you are logged into Canvas:

Summarize responses and share with students

These responses may be collected, summarized, and reported back to the students at the next class session, or a four-quadrant chart can be drawn on the board and students can verbally offer responses. Whichever method is chosen, it is important to close the feedback loop and share the data with students. This creates a great opportunity to discuss the shared responsibility for teaching and learning in a course.

You can describe what changes you will (or will not) implement as a result of their feedback and why. It also provides the opportunity for the students as a group to see what their classmates are doing that is helping them learn in the course, and what they think they need to change in order to be more successful in the course. Often times hearing these strategies from their peers is more powerful than getting the same advice from the instructor.

Interested in learning how it works? Read the CELT Teaching Tip Midterms: A valuable time for formative assessment web post

 

This resource is adapted from the following

Helminski, L. & Koberna, S. (1995). Total quality in instruction: A systems approach. In H. V. Roberts (Ed.), Academic initiatives in total quality for higher education (pp. 309-362). Milwaukee, WI: ASQC Quality Press.

Additional resources

Huba, M. E., & Freed, J. E. (2000). Learner-centered assessment on college campuses: shifting the focus from teaching to learning. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Brookfield, S. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher / Stephen Brookfield. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. (2017). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (Vol. Second edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.iastate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1455717&site=ehost-live