Crafting Effective Feedback for Students

Good feedback helps your students get closer to achieving the learning goals you have for them, and it can also help make your relationship with students more meaningful. Here are a few suggestions for crafting effective feedback.

Provide quality feedback. The most effective feedback does three things. First, it provides an appreciation for students’ efforts. Second, it welcomes errors as an opportunity for students to learn. Third, it is specific and actionable: it focuses on what is incorrect or could be improved, how it can be improved, and why. Generic praise, by contrast, is often ignored, while punitive feedback is both ineffective and likely to foster a negative culture in your classroom.

Provide individualized feedback. Students who are at different places in their learning respond to different types of feedback. Beginning learners typically need assurance, correction, and indications of which way is the right direction; while more advanced learners need their extended time and efforts recognized. Differences in ability levels can make group feedback less effective and less relevant to some students.

Make expectations clear. Providing explicit guidance on your expectations and assessment criteria up front will not only communicate to students where they currently are in their learning, but will provide an understanding of where they need to go to be successful.

Make students active participants in the assessment process. Provide students with a range and choice of varied assessment opportunities, supplemented and moderated by your feedback. Involve students in the assessment design itself, and offer opportunities for students to offer feedback to their peers and on their own work.

Make feedback helpful. Students’ views of feedback are influenced by their beliefs about learning, motivation, and previous learning experiences. Encourage your students to value feedback and empower them to learn how to use it. Furthermore, be sure that the assessments you have designed are aligned with your learning goals.

References

Evans, C. (2013). Making sense of assessment feedback in higher education. Review of Educational Research83(1), 70–120.

Hattie, J.A.C. & Yates, G.C.R. (2014). Using feedback to promote learning. In V.A. Benassi, C.E. Overson, & C.M. Hakala (Eds.), Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum (pp. 45-58). Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology website: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/asle2014/index.php