10 Tips for Providing Meaningful Feedback to Students
Feedback can be a boon for student success, but it’s important to get it right. Here are ten things to keep in mind when giving students feedback on their work.
- (1) Out of balance toward the positive: Any feedback you give should be balanced more toward the positive than the negative. Some teachers aim for 5 positive interactions to 1 negative. Even 3:1 is a step in the right direction.
- (2) Surprise with the positive: When a student is doing the right things, surprise them with positive feedback. Think about making a surprise call home. It makes the student feel like a million bucks.
- (3) Feedback should be given in a timely manner: Like milk, feedback loses its effectiveness as time goes by. Students simply forget the process of doing the work, so when feedback comes in late they can’t connect the dots.
- (4) Feedback should be actionable: “Good job”, although appreciated, is not very instructive. What did the student do well (or poorly)? How can they improve?
- (5) Stick to one skill: Feedback should focus on one particular skill at a time. Students can get lost if they have a list of things to work on.
- (6) Mix your methods: Give your feedback in a variety of ways, including verbal, non-verbal, and written to differentiate the learning.
- (7) Spread out your due dates: One of the barriers to meaningful feedback is a simple lack of time. To make sure that doesn’t happen, alternate your due dates among your classes so you only have half the work at a time.
- (8) Don’t forget the other students: If you model correct feedback procedures, it’s easy to hand the reins to the other students in a peer conferencing model.
- (9) Use data: These days, even younger students are used to looking at data. Backing up your feedback with facts makes it even more instructive.
- (10) Turn the tables: In an effort to model correct feedback procedures, make sure the students have opportunities to give you their impressions as well. Education is a partnership.