decom = decompression

The weekly decom’s are probably one of the things I am happiest about this semester, so I thought I would expose a little more detail including the technology, my questions, and the responses I got. It is my goal to refine the questions a bit and focus on several areas: learning goals, feedback, open communication.


Technology and realization: I used google docs, and specifically the spreadsheet with a form front-end on it. This has allowed me to quickly put together a survey and to automatically populate the answers into a spreadsheet. Most of the time I wrote the survey questions (frequently based on the previous week) the day of the survey or even hours before I administered it.

This tool also relies on the fact that every student has access to the network and they are asked (required??) to complete it at the end of class before they leave.

list of decoms

list of decoms

Questions: I frequently ask questions related to the materials covered in the previous week, and what we have learned. I also use this as an opportunity to ask about progress of projects and if there are things which are slowing down or barriers to working. I also try to include at least one open ended question.

questions and answers

questions and answers

Most of questions are essay or long paragraph, and are indicated by the response size of the answer. The most interesting thing for me is that many students took this opportunity to write a considerable amount.

Answers: I make a point of reading the answers but I need to reI need to refine my questions, sometimes they provoked lengthy answers but there were occasions where a simple yes or no was appropriate and that is all I got.


Refinements: I am focusing on better questions, and trying to find a way to make the survey more obviously useful to the class.  I once asked what they were getting from these decoms and about half were surprised that they were what it was all about.  I need to tie some results or resulting behavior directly to these and keep communication open.