Identifying opportunities for improving teacher performance through feedback starts with a deep exploration of context. The BIF team used a variety of methods to better understand the teacher experience and the role of feedback in the experience.

Using a human-centered design approach enables stakeholders to see the experience through the lens of the teacher, to better appreciate the dynamics of the feedback system through the teacher’s eyes, and to more readily identify opportunities for further research and intervention.

Over the course of four weeks we were able to walk briefly in the shoes of teachers and other stakeholders, to listen to their stories, and to see their world as they see it. We used fieldwork, webwork and a teacher-driven participatory design workshop to ensure significant exposure to the people, activities, and information that make up the feedback experience of teachers.

With fieldwork, we were able to engage 39 teachers, 6 administrators and 15 students in their local contexts through individual and group on-site interviews and observation. Using a semistructured interview protocol, a broad range of topics was addressed with study participants including previous educational experiences and cultural frameworks; the dynamics between personal teaching aspirations and planning a teaching career; navigating the feedback system; the organizational environment; relationships with students, peers, teams and leadership; networks and community and support systems.

With webwork, 27 teachers across the U.S. engaged for one week through an online qualitative research platform. The purpose of this effort was to develop a broad understanding of the teacher experience and the role of feedback in the experience. Teachers completed an interlocking set of narrative, self-documentation and projective exercises to reveal the logical and emotional aspects of the feedback experience. Findings from the webwork supported both the approach to the fieldwork and the synthesis of the research findings.

With the participatory design workshop we invited 16 teachers from the in-school research and online community to attend a one-day workshop to refine and reflect on initial project content, both research insights and opportunity spaces, and to further explore one opportunity space through a collaborative exercise. Through dialogue and hands-on design application we identified ways to provide clarity to insights, add focus to supporting examples and strengthen opportunity spaces.

Research Statistics

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In-School Research Methods


Individual and group - were the primary means of eliciting the voice of the teacher. Using a semistructured interview protocol, a broad range of topics were addressed with study participants.

Shadowing & Observation

provided the opportunity to track an individual teacher’s experience and their shifting needs over the course of several hours, and to understand the activities and behaviors of teachers in a variety of contexts by directly observing daily participation first-hand.


extended the reach of the research team by putting reporting tools into the hands of teachers so they could frame important aspects of their experience, environment and relationships as they see fit, uninfluenced by our presence.