April 7, 2009

Private Blogs for Evaluations

Since Nate and Nick are avid bloggers (note we didn't say competent), our first idea for the improvement of the evaluation is an evaluation blog. Team members would make a well thought-out blog post about the performance of their team at any necessary time. Blog posts could be shorter (a few paragraphs) and focus on one member of the team. We would want to enforce a minimum length for each post so we don't have people tweeting their evaluations. This would reduce the number of reactionary and flamatory posts.

  • Students can report feedback at their own pace. Blogging gives the option of more frequent updates, while retaining the option of having large posts twice a semester.
  • Team members would receive faster feedback on how to improve. PMs could also use comments to ask questions for clarification.
  • Can tag based on team member, individual goal, team goal, etc. This should make PM life a bit easier.
  • Faculty can enforce a qouta on number of posts depending on the amount of feedback required.
  • Easier to remember specific behavior examples the day they happened instead of at a particular time.
  • High initial overhead if an existing cannot be adapted to fit Design Studio's needs. These need to be both secure and accessible, and only visible to the student and their PM.
  • Easy to forget/put off because there will be more updates required (i.e. every two weeks compared to every six weeks).
  • Would bring on more negative comments.
  • High PM overhead because they would need to compile multiple posts to determine a grade.
An organic system like this would skip over the "evaluation period" and require more upfront planning to ensure the completion of goals. Team member goals would need to be communicated to the rest of the team, or this system would not make it easier to give feedback on teammates goals. Unless there was a public post of goals that teammates could comment on.

A system like this would either be very easy (use Wordpress or Blogger) or quite difficult (write custom application) to set up. If a blogging system could enforce all of the constraints required by an evaluation system then it would be an attractive replacement for the current system.

This example post took me less than 2 minutes to think up, write, and publish.

Please, share your thoughts about blogging evaluations in Design Studio. And remember, if you have any other ideas about improving the evaluations process, please share your thoughts below.

Also, it happened.


  1. I think this is actually kind of a cool idea. I think it would also probably change the way a PM manages, depending on how seriously they take the extra negative comments.

    Also, because of the inevitable discrepancy between team member posting rates. It might even introduce a competitive aspect as to who can be the squeakiest wheel. I guess there should probably be something to encourage conciseness.

  2. Yea a qualitative measure would still be needed, but that is where people usually get mad and think they got screwed.
    This doesn't quite solve that problem, but really nothing does. Maybe ScanTron Evaluations. :)

  3. I think that a maximum post size would be justified here. I really run long with my evaluations - cutting me off would improve the quality and save PM time.

  4. I like the idea overall and I like the continuous feedback portion of it especially

    My biggest concern with a system like this would be whether students would get actual value out of it. For instance my prediction would be that 90%+ of students would wait until whatever deadline you set to actually write anything.

    Also I would question whether this would encourage more of a behind the scenes way of addressing issues rather than bringing them up in person with the team or the PM. This wouldn't necessarily be the case, but I would be wary of it.

  5. That's a good point - we have to consider that whatever continuous improvement piece we try will be abused by a majority of the students.

    Without setting specific (weekly) requirements, the blogging system will not provide us with the continuous improvement.

    I think that this system would be most effective if the students made small, incremental evaluation updates and team issues that arise will be addressed at iteration retrospectives.