Kilbourn Supervising and Inquiry 2nd Time

Kilbourn, B., Keating, C., Murray, K., & Ross, I. (2005). Balancing feedback and inquiry: How novice observers (supervisors) learn from inquiry into their own practice. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 20(4), 298-318.

Kilbourn article 2nd time

They claim that novice observers – i.e. supervisors – should have an inquiry stance towards how they give feedback so that the process of giving feedback becomes the object of something to be learned and constantly refined. They state, “The process of learning to provide constructive feedback, then, becomes an object of inquiry – a process to be studied and better understood (p. 299).”

Feedback as Data:

One way he defines feedback is “…the aim to give unambiguous, straight feedback based on evidence (p. 300).” The feedback is in the form of data – a video or audio artifact with supplemental anecdotal observations. “The aim is to base feedback on concrete data of what happened and on what the teacher is attempting to accomplish rather than on the observer’s personal prejudices about good teaching (p. 300).”

  • “analysis is based on observable data;
  • data are in the form of details (what, precisely, teachers and students say and do) rather than generalities;
  • analysis focuses on regularities (patterns of teacher-student interaction that potentially affect learning);
  • interpretation involves hypothesized causal links among the specifics of what teachers and students say and do;
  • interpretation involves systematic weighing of evidence rather than selective interpretation; and
  • interpretations are appropriately qualified (p.300).”

The authors talk about giving constructive feedback, which is different than giving advice. Constructive feedback is helping the teacher develop a reflective stance towards their practice, in essence helping her to become a reflective practitioner. They state, “Constructive feedback is aimed at moving beyond merely ‘giving advice’ about teaching; that is, an effort is made to help the teacher become independently self-monitoring. The goal is to make the observer’s view of ‘improving teaching through reflective inquiry’ transparent to the teacher and to help the teacher to adopt the view in examining her or his own teaching (p. 301).”

Creating reflective practitioners is difficult especially with novice teachers because they tend to reject the process. “Novice teachers, for instance, crave advice, and they tend to be less sophisticated in their ability to adopt an attitude of inquiry and to interpret the events of teaching (p. 301).”

The authors present three cases. They are practicing teachers in the role of novice supervisors who examine their practices as supervisors as they learn to give feedback.

The authors argue that learning to give constructive feedback is a process that takes a lifetime, but having an inquiry stance towards it opens the door to that process.

Factors that can shift the process away from constructive feedback and towards giving advice include a genuine tendency towards being helpful, a desire to take control in order to cover the entire analysis because of the invested time in the analysis, and the need for immediate results from the feedback process.

“Thoughtful inquiry requires reflective time and cannot be hurried or quickly packaged (p. 317).”

“The pace of school life and the logistics of teachers’ schedules mean that observers and teachers alike often feel as though they are rushing through a process that they would like to take at a slower, more deliberative pace (p. 317).”