Providing feedback is an integral part of the learning process. It helps students to confirm, correct, or restructure their current learning practices and approaches. Meaningful feedback boosts engagement and motivation. Besides, it encourages students to reflect on their progress and improve self-regulation and planning skills.
Yet, not only students can achieve improvement. Feedback is beneficial for teachers as well. As they collect evidence on their students’ performance, they can see the impact of their teaching strategies. It allows educators to adapt practices to the needs of students to enhance their learning outcomes.
To provide constructive and educative feedback, a teacher needs to take four steps: Set learning goals; Gather evidence on students’ performance; Provide instructions on how to improve learning outcomes; Check how students respond to them.
Here are several strategies that can make your feedback more meaningful and effective.
Be Specific: Your message should be clear. Students need to understand exactly what you want them to improve. Name the issue specifically, avoiding ambiguous words and formulations. For example, instead of saying “be more active,” try to point out some specific activities the student should participate in. You will sound more objective and give a clear idea of what success looks like. Explain to the student why your recommendation is important to follow and what impact it will have. It will give your feedback a purpose and logic.
Ask Students’ Opinion: Create a joint problem-solving situation. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, ask the students how they see it. Additionally, you can hold a discussion or ask students to write a reflective essay. You can buy EssayService samples for them to see how it’s done. It is a non-graded assignment where they would evaluate their current performance and suggest possible changes. It is important to know the point of view of your students to understand their needs better.
Focus on the Task: You should be clear about learning goals to assess your students’ knowledge and skills relative to it. Research suggests that to improve education and maintain learners’ motivation, you need to focus on the task rather than on a student’s personality or talents. This applies to both positive and negative feedback. It helps learners to achieve a strong internal locus of control. This means that they will rely on their own work and effort instead of praising or blaming external factors.
React as Soon as Possible: Immediate feedback proves to be much more effective than delayed recommendations. Optiz and colleagues conducted an experiment, comparing the impact of both. They have found that students who receive immediate feedback gain an increase in performance. If you cannot provide feedback on the spot, do it after the class. However, waiting days or weeks is a bad idea as students might not respond to it positively or connect it with the issue.
Provide Feedback During One-on-One Meetings: If you want your students to receive feedback positively, make sure you provide it one-on-one. Learners should be able to ask questions and share their thoughts. If you give feedback in front of other people, you will make the student uncomfortable or even defensive. In both cases, your feedback will not reach the desired results.
Keep Track of Student Performance: Working with a large group of students, you might forget the issues you need to discuss with each of them. It is helpful to keep track of their progress in a written form. Note down students’ achievements, behaviour issues, questions, grades, etc. It will help you to collect structured evidence on their performance and provide substantial and specific feedback.
Acknowledge Students’ Efforts: Positive feedback is crucial to reinforce students’ efforts. Make sure you point out and praise their progress. It encourages students to work more and allows them to confirm their behaviours. Even if a student is yet to achieve a certain learning goal, their efforts are worthy of recognition.
Consider Individual Needs of Students: Each student is different. You should be attentive and sensible when it comes to giving feedback. Some students perceive feedback as a challenge and encouragement. So it motivated them to work more. Others are more vulnerable and might, on the contrary, get discouraged to study. The task of a teacher is to find an approach to each student individually to maintain motivation.
Explain How to Improve: Pointing out a problem without providing a solution is rather ineffective and can be even counterproductive. Make sure you explain to students the steps they need to take to improve their performance. Moreover, you can try to involve learners in this process and work on a solution together. This way, you do not only encourage students to be more mindful about their performance but also support self-feedback.
Check Whether a Student Understands Your Point: Giving feedback is not the easiest thing to do. Sometimes it may cause misunderstandings if the student misinterprets learning objectives or cannot cope with the task without some extra instruction. To make sure that the student understands your feedback and its purpose, ask them questions to get their perspective on the issue. Mutual understanding is key to empowering learners to move towards their goals. Provide feedback wisely to unlock the best possible benefits for your students.