Course Assessment Based on Appreciative Inquiry

Last week I wrote about using solution-focused brief therapy as inspiration for the kinds of questions leaders should be asking their direct reports, according to author David Rock. I was following up on a second model that inspired Rock, called appreciative inquiry, when I came across this article talking about using appreciative inquiry as a model for course evaluation.

Appreciative inquiry is built around using questions to focus on the positive: what have you accomplished and how we can build on those areas of success?

As a course evaluation model, appreciative inquiry suggests that course evaluation doesn’t have to be an inventory of good and bad, but a critical search for what was accomplished and how even greater successes can be built on that foundation. The model as applied by the evaluators in the article above doesn’t mean ignoring problems, but instead viewing them critically as obstacles to doing more of the good.

Meaningfully, the model suggests that all, or at least as many as possible, learners should participate in this dialog–both, I think, to get learners to reflect on the positives in the course, leaving them presumably more likely to feel good about the knowledge they acquired and thus more likely to apply it, and to create a sense that learning is an active partnership between learners and instructors/designers.

An interesting twist that creates an inherently positive and optimistic spin to course evaluation…


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