The Power of Negative Feedback

We are coming to the end of our design thinking process and it is time for students to test their solutions to the problem of how to create a better MRI experience for children.  Grades 4 and 5 students were invited in to provide feedback.  It was one of those, “Why isn’t anyone here to film this?” moments.

As I circulated, one group called me over very excited about what their visitor had told them. “We got great feedback. He told us that having a candy stand in the waiting room was actually a bad idea because sugar makes some children hyper.  It would be harder for them to lie still in the MRI machine.  That was so useful.  We never thought of that.  Now we have to change our design.”  The group had smiles on their faces.

After the visitors left, we debriefed.  The group shared their story of the candy stand and I tied it to the process of design thinking, rapid fail and the value of feedback.  We talked about the importance of detaching emotions from ideas and failing as quickly as possible in order to get to a better idea. Other students also shared their insights.  Some were disappointed because they received no negative feedback.  Two groups were confused because of conflicting feedback.  One student had loved the bright colours of their MRI machines and the other thought the machines should have less colour.  We discussed avenues for further exploration including researching colour theory, testing colours on many children and creating two different MRI machines that provide choice to the child. I asked if anyone had found the experience painful.  One student put up her hand.  She shared that it hurt to have an idea rejected, but acknowledged value in the process.  Other students talked about how great it felt that their prototypes were well-received.

I pointed out to the class the significance of this moment and how far the class had come.  Negative feedback has changed from something to be feared to something to be embraced.  Heads nodded.


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