The Power of Great Feedback

  • 4 Min Read

When students are given feedback in the classroom, engagement can rise and learning outcomes can improve. When feedback is timely, constructive, and individualized, students hear the message, “I care about you and want you to succeed.”

Feedback can come in many forms. It can be oral, written, visual, or delivered through demonstration. It can be directed to an individual, to a group, or to an entire classroom. To be most relevant and effective, it should be specific and related to the subject matter. It should also be actionable — in other words, students should have enough time to react to the feedback and implement recommendations. Teachers and instructors should avoid being overly critical or nitpicky. This type of negative feedback has the opposite effect and can de-motivate. Studies have shown that it can discourage student effort and achievement (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, Dinhami[1]).

If you are looking to improve your feedback game, consider these ten tips for delivering great feedback:[2]

  1. Make feedback timely. Students should be able to connect the feedback they are receiving with the action they are performing. Wait too long and that cause-and-effect connection may be lost.
  2. Be sensitive to the needs of the individual. As we know, every learner is different. Some need just a gentle nudge, others need to be challenged. Be aware of the person, their likes, dislikes, and past behaviors, to best determine how your feedback may be received.
  3. Use the four-question method to improve the quality of your feedback. These questions are helpful for framing feedback for students and for parents:
    • What can the student do?
    • What can’t the student do?
    • How does the student’s work compare with others’?
    • What can the student do better?
  4. Make sure feedback is about a skill or specific knowledge. Generalized feedback, such as “needs improvement” or “work harder,” is not particularly helpful to the student as it does not lay out a specific roadmap for improvement. Leverage rubrics to provide very specific information to students about their performance as it compares to an established set of standards.
  5. Give feedback on a regular basis. Check in regularly with students and provide ongoing feedback to keep them on track and progressing to meet their learning goals.
  6. Give students one-on-one time. This time between a teacher or instructor and a student is the very best way to deliver feedback, and students look forward to quality, individualized attention.
  7. Use different feedback formats. Try oral, written, and visual feedback, or use demonstration. Feedback comes in many forms, and again, every learner is different.
  8. Stay focused and specific. Rather than overwhelming a student, stick to one skill or capability and focus your feedback on that. Then, in the spirit of ongoing feedback, turn to another skill on a different day.
  9. Rotate assignment due dates. Consider alternating assignment dates for groups of students, then use one-on-one time to provide opportunities for quality feedback. Students will appreciate your time and attention, and it will keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
  10. Give genuine praise and catch them doing well. Anyone can toss out the phrase “good work” or “great job” — so take your feedback to the next level by offering some individual and meaningful insight that is unique to the student. Or take the additional step of calling the student’s parents to share your praise with them. In class, also take time to provide genuine feedback to the student, noting small improvements or positive behavior changes, with comments such as “Susan, you did a fantastic job of leading that discussion today,” or “Jeff, that was a really insightful question you asked.”

So how can the Brightspace platform help you provide meaningful and specific feedback? Within Brightspace Core, teachers and instructors can provide rich feedback directly within the Assignments tool.

Teachers and instructors can offer high-level feedback, including grades, video, and audio, and provide contextual in-line annotations within the assignment, for instance highlighting specific areas with meaningful suggestions or references back to the rubric or to other related materials (such as a textbook chapter).

[1]The Power of Feedback
[2] Giving Student Feedback: 20 Tips To Do It Right

Interested in learning more? Check out the Indigo Release to see the latest grading and assessment features, or contact your D2L sales representative for more information.

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