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Exit ticket outliers and negativity

Posted on: August 6, 2015

Yesterday I described one way of designing exit tickets for reflection and feedback in the context of my flipped learning seminar.

One result of a simple and open design of my exit ticket is a funnelling effect, i.e., the majority indicate common takeaways. If these are aligned to objectives, then you know you have done something right as a speaker, instructor, or facilitator.

There will be exceptions. One involves outlier comments, and the other, negative comments.

The outliers are questions or comments that fall outside the norm. But they can be no less valuable because, while not intended, they were serendipitous and important to the learner. For example, one participant wanted to leverage on social media to flip learning.

Another outlier comment about flipped learning was: “It is more suited for tertiary level as they are deemed to be more independent learners with greater ownership of their learning.”

The participants of the seminar were mainstream school teachers. If I did the same session with lecturers and professors from higher education institutes, one or two might say flipped learning is better for younger kids.

This particular outlier comment is harmful to the participant because it indicates a negative, it-cannot-be-done mindset. The commenter needs to think about how kids are natural learners, how schooling tends to create a dependence on teaching, and how flipping (kids creating content and kids teaching) can counter the effect of bad schooling.

negativity by laurabl, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  laurabl 

Then there are negative comments.

Instructors who care have the tendency to focus on the single negative in the face of 99 positive comments. The negativity stands out.

I do not get these often, but I had one this time round. It troubled me. I even chose to ignore the positivity of the person who took the trouble to come out of the venue after me to commend me for an excellent talk.

So how does one deal with this?

I had an honest look at myself and what I did. Perhaps this person had a point. Or perhaps s/he had an agenda. Or the person was, pardon my French, an asshole (they exist and they stink up the place for everyone).

Fortunately, I use more than one feedback platform. I had the Padlet stickies and the TodaysMeet backchannel. The person was negative on both and commented on relatively superficial things. The person also chose not to share his/her name.

A person who wants to be negative but honest and constructive will generally be open to conversation. This means not hiding behind anonymity. Such a person will also focus on ideas that matter.

So, as difficult as it is, I am ignoring the negative and non-constructive comments in both channels in terms of how they affect my confidence. But I address them by providing a reply in the backchannel and reflecting on my thought process here.

#negativity #dontletin #bepositive #qotd by TITAN9389, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  TITAN9389 

Having outliers by way of takeaways, comments, or feedback is not a bad thing. It might be a sign that your instruction expanded from teaching moments you control to learning moments you cannot.

Negativity, on the other hand, can control you. If you let it. It is best to remain objective, review the data and information you have, and decide if the negativity was warranted. If so, eat humble pie and do something positive. If not, ignore it.

2 Responses to "Exit ticket outliers and negativity"

CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: RT @ashley: I share insights on seminar design
& open exit tickets #edsg via


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