Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Dr. Eugene Thompson
Dr. Zoe Barley
Dr. James Hendricks
Examined in this study is the performance feedback provided to administrative staff at the research location and the relationship of that feedback to performance. Data were collected through semistructured interviews from 27 subjects at a small midwestern coeducational public university. Six research questions were investigated: the conditions under which feedback occurs, the sources of feedback and their relative usefulness, barriers to feedback giving and seeking, and the relationship of feedback to performance.
The desire to correct a deficiency was the primary catalyst to informal feedback being given to staff. Supervisors became aware of staffs' deficiencies through observation and complaints from others. Staff received feedback from six sources: the formal organization, co-workers, supervisors, the task, self, and clients. Whereas coworkers and supervisors were the sources most frequently mentioned as feedback providers, clients and self were reported as being the most useful. Although formal evaluation was mandated by the board of regents, evaluations were conducted inconsistently and in a perfunctory manner.
The quality and quantity of formal and informal feedback were largely dependent on three factors: (1) the nature of the job (task -oriented jobs provided more feedback on the work flow process), (2) the commitment of the supervisor, and (3) the feedback seeking behavior of the subordinate.
Generally, supervisors felt that their staff received enough performance feedback, but subordinates found the amount in sufficient. Supervisors did not provide more feedback because of the perceived emotional issues associated with this activity . Subordinates did not seek more feedback because the organizational culture was not supportive of such behavior. Physical proximity of supervisor and subordinate related positively with frequency of feedback.
Supervisors perceived feedback contributed to improved performance. Subordinates, however, were able to provide few examples of when they changed their behavior because of the feedback they received.
Similar qualitative studies should be done at other universities, both like and unlike the institution studied. Additionally, evaluation studies should be conducted in work environments which implement one or more of the recommendations for practitioners included in the study.
Reese, Karen M., "The Naturalistic Study of Performance Feedback in a Higher Education Administrative Setting" (1992). Dissertations. 1968.