What is good feedback? Faculty should absolutely rethink the way they give feedback to students. Good feedback should be constructive and as positive as possible, or maybe neutral, but never negative!
Unfortunately, I have often noticed during class observations as an educational advisor that most feedback from faculty focuses on what should be changed or improved rather than on what goes well.
Most faculty members believe that efficient feedback must be critical, highlighting what should or could be improved. However, research in higher education shows that negative feedback has damaging consequences on learning paths, provoking demotivation and a lack of self-esteem. What a pity: giving negative feedback thus creates the opposite result from what is expected.
Thus, what is good educational feedback and how should it be delivered? In my opinion, a good feedback is a teacher’s response to any evidence of learning from a student: oral, written or even gestural. In addition, I believe that constructive educational feedback should respect the 4 rules below:
- Start with a positive comment. There’s always something positive to point out, even in a very poor student’s performance. Doing so establishes a connection based on mutual trust. As far as I’m concerned, as a teacher, I am fond of the sandwich technique: first a positive comment; second, a more critical one and last, another positive aspect of a student’s performance. Emphasizing what goes well from a student’s perspective encourages both motivation and the willingness to dig deeper!
- Don’t wait too long to give feedback. When student feedback is given immediately or as soon as possible for written proof of learning (test, exam), students respond positively, and deep learning is fostered. This helps students build confidence and self-esteem as learners. If the feedback comes too late, the moment is lost, and the connection between the feedback and the learning performance is wasted. I would like to take the opportunity to encourage faculty to quickly correct students’ written proofs of learning such as exams or tests. In my opinion, students should receive feedback within a week at the latest.
- Respect every individual’s learning style. Every learner has a different learning style; some need to be pushed out of their comfort zones to perform better, and others need to be reassured and comforted about their learning potentialities. It’s dreadfully easy to hurt students’ self-esteem and thus damage learning motivation. Teachers ought to be aware of the power of words, which can become a deadly weapon. Any feedback should be warm-hearted and cautious.
- Providing answers to 4 key questions will help faculty give effective feedback. This will help students know where they stand with regard to their learning paths.
– What can my student do?
– What can’t my student do?
– What is their level compared to that of their peers?
– How can I help my students improve their learning paths?
Relevant and warm-hearted feedback provides students with powerful insight into their learning paths and allows them to build in-depth knowledge. To conclude, positive and focused feedback fosters students’ deep learning while opening the doors of motivation to study and self-esteem. Giving effective and warm-hearted feedback will give your students the feeling that they can conquer the world!
Hattie (2012) Visible learning for teachers: maximizing impact on learning. Routledge. London
- Hattie (2012) Visible learning for teachers: maximizing impact on learning. Routledge. London