“Would you be willing to complete a brief survey about your experience?” It’s a simple request, but how you respond can have a lasting impact. Constructive criticism, in particular, helps organizations identify key strengths and improvement areas, and serves as a guide for strategic initiatives. Because The School of Business aims to nurture connections and facilitate transformation, student input is often solicited to develop and improve various aspects of our Graduate Business Programs (GBP).
Incoming student feedback on orientation
At the end of fall 2019 orientation, we asked incoming graduate business students to assess their onboarding experience and offer recommendations for improvement. Almost 65% of students participated in the survey, which was substantially more engagement than the typical higher education survey benchmark of 15%. The results were reviewed by all GBP staff, as well as the academic directors of each program, so that both groups could better understand and respond to students’ needs.
One common recommendation that students made was for The School of Business to offer a campus tour during orientation to help incoming students navigate their new surroundings. GBP staff and directors agreed that it was important for new students, especially those who were new to Portland, to have this opportunity. This recommendation is being immediately operationalized, and a tour has been added to fall 2020’s orientation. In addition, GBP plans to engage current students in leading optional sessions and hosting dinner for new students.
Offering feedback as a current graduate student
Throughout your graduate degree, you have opportunities to help shape The School of Business. You can take part in digital focus groups, career programming options, as well as offer feedback on the GBP’s Code of Professionalism. Other opportunities include participating in course evaluations, advising satisfaction surveys, Student Ambassador Council, employment outcomes surveys and program exit surveys.
Having a conversation with a member of the GBP team is also an option. We have a dynamic and supportive staff with an impressive array of knowledge bases, and you are encouraged to reach out to them. “I want people to feel like there is an open door here,”says Julian Steele, Student Onboarding and Success Coordinator.
MBA Candidate Nathaniel Goldberg prefers meeting in person. “Working as a teacher,” he explains, “I received anonymous student feedback at the end of each term, but because it was in the form of yes/no and sliding scale questions, I didn’t gain as much specificity as would have been helpful. Anonymity also occasionally led to profanity-laced venting.” (Pro tip: Don’t curse in your course evaluations.)
Best practices for constructive feedback
To be sure, there may be instances when you’d prefer to share feedback anonymously, but whenever possible, consider direct dialogue. In-person conversations, in particular, allow you and our staff to ask follow-up questions, creating chances for new insights for everyone involved. If nothing else, conversations typically offer more context and clarity than a digital survey or feedback form.
Stanford Professor Carole Robin offers some best practices for constructive feedback, and notes that all thoughtful feedback also entails some self-disclosure: “In disclosing the impact the other person’s behavior has on them, the person giving the feedback becomes somewhat vulnerable.” Robin suggests that this dynamic of shared vulnerability helps the receiver “hear” the feedback better rather than feeling as though they are the only vulnerable party in the exchange.
Whatever method you choose, remember that The School of Business takes your feedback seriously, and sharing your experience can directly impact the experiences of current and future students. If you’re on campus, you can stop by the Graduate Business Office in the Karl Miller Center to schedule an appointment or if you’re remote, you can email SBGradinfo@pdx.edu.