Giving Students Effective Feedback on Their Work
Feedback is giving students information on how they are doing towards their goals. Feedback is not advice. It's important to remember that you need to give students concrete information about where their current performance stands in relation to their goals, which then helps them understand what skills they need to work on or what process they need to follow to do better in the future. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you give students feedback on their work:
- Feedback should always be given in relation to a goal. Feedback should never be how one performance can be improved but rather how a student can move forward to reaching a larger goal. An example would be student performance on a math test. Correcting the missed problems on the test may be a helpful practice, but it may only serve to improve that one performance. Feedback would involve the teacher sitting with the student (or class if it was a commonly missed problem) and coaching them on the steps they missed or mistake they made and showing them how they can be more successful in the future—not only on that one question.
- Feedback should lead to tangible results. In the math test example given above, telling a student that an answer is wrong and telling them the correct answer does not lead them to tangible results. Specific feedback should lead to a better performance on a similar problem. In fact, part of your feedback may be asking a student to complete a similar problem using the feedback you have given them.
- Feedback should be accessible to the student. Here you want to avoid using vocabulary or examples that students cannot relate to. If someone was giving you feedback and used a metaphor involving car repair, you would probably be lost unless you know a lot about car repair and can relate to what the person is saying. A teacher should seek to position the feedback they are giving in the best light for the specific student to understand.
- Feedback should be timely but not necessarily immediate. Feedback that lingers too long becomes less actionable and relevant to the student, whereas immediate feedback can be too soon and fall on ears that are not prepared to hear it.
- Feedback should be consistent. Routines in which students know they will be receiving feedback make them more comfortable and receptive to the feedback they are receiving. Conferencing is a great way to accomplish this. When you allow set blocks of time to move throughout the room and sit and give feedback while students are working, they will come to expect and rely on this consistent feedback.
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