Six Rules of Thumb for Providing Feedback to Students
1. Provide Feedback to Recognize Good Performance
We often express what students do wrong, and rarely recognize them for good performance. Most people respond better when positively encouraged. When trying to give feedback to students, be sure to recognize good performance. Here are some examples of how to recognize student’s good performance:
- Send them a thank you note.
- Create a class recognition board and place students’ names and their good performances for the week.
- Send notes home to 3-5 parents a week, telling them how well their child is performing.
2. Describe How Students Can Improve By Using Rich Descriptions
This can help clearly define performance areas that need improvement. An example of this would be to say:
“Your paragraph needs some improvement with organization. Work on making better transitions from one paragraph to another. Think about how each paragraph connects and use language to show the connection.”
The rich description provides much more information for students to use than do statements like “good work,” “needs improvement,” or “C.”
3. Focus on How Well Rather Than How Rapidly
Students are going to reach learning targets at different rates. It may take some students longer to hit the targets. They, too, need to be judged on the quality of their work using the same criteria as those who got there sooner. We can’t focus on how rapidly, we must focus on how well they accomplish the learning targets.
4. Quality Rather Than Quantity of Student Work Accomplished
If we give students a large quantity of work to keep them busy, we aren’t focused on how well they are learning the target at hand. Students working fewer problems well, produce better results than students completing loads of work with a goal of “getting it done.”
5. Provide Feedback about the Learning Task Without Personalization
Give feedback that recognizes student performance or behavior, to help students improve or let them know they hit the mark. Share information that speaks to the specifics about a performance rather than making a judgment about the value of any student. A good example would be to say something along the lines of:
“Jonathon, I noticed that all capitals of the southern states were correctly identified. Let’s work on another section of the country and get those correct. I am going to give you a set of northern states. See if you can get those correct, as well.”
6. Give Students Opportunities to Express What They Believe the Feedback Provided Means
A quality feedback process is as much about students reflecting on the information as it is about them receiving it. The most productive reflections come when students receive descriptive feedback that includes identifying what students have done well and where they can improve.
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