This learning module is provides information about how to provide effective written feedback to your students. Information provided in this module had been apadted from Susan Brookhart’s book How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students.
Today we are going to talk about providing students with written feedback. Written feedback is a genre all if its own. When providing written feedback the words you choose and the tone of those words matter. Consider the following statement: “Writing good feedback requires an understanding that language does more than describe our world; it constructs our world”. Let’s look at some examples to clarify this point. Look at the following examples of feedback given to students. “What did you think about when you chose that topic?” This feedback implies that the student is someone who thinks and that the choice the student made had a purpose. It invites
Look at the following examples of feedback given to students. “What did you think about when you chose that topic?” This feedback implies that the student is someone who thinks and that the choice the student made had a purpose. It invites the student to be active in the learning process and opens an opportunity to further discuss this choice. Now let’s look at the second example. “ You won’t find much about carrier pigeons. That’s too narrow a topic. Pick something else.” This feedback positions the student as a passive learner….. One who takes an order from the teacher, this feedback shuts down learning rather than creating an opportunity for growth. The remainder of this learning module is all about learning how to choose words and phrases that help educators promote student learning by providing opportunities for student’s to make active decisions in their learning.
Providing effective written feedback is essential to the learning process. Providing effective feedback is comprise of three basic components: Clarity, specificity and tone. We will look at each of these components in turn to get a better understanding of how to utilize these components in our everyday practice.
Clarity is important; students need to understand the feedback information as you intend it. Students have different vocabularies and different backgrounds and experiences. The criterions for clarity is whether the writing would be clear to the individual students. Take a look at the characteristics of feedback that has good and bad clarity. Focusing in on number 2 of bad characteristics, “Writing to show what you know, not what the student needs” is a common mistake made by educators. Asking students questions about their work instead of commenting can sometime prevent this mistake.
Deciding how specific to make your feedback is a matter of the Goldilocks principle: not too narrow, bot too broad, but just right. Comments like “ Write more” at the top of a paper do not give students much guidance. Students may ask themselves “More of what?” Another vague comment is “ Try harder”. What should the student try to do more of?. In either of these cases, students with good intentions who want to act on your feedback may end up doing counterproductive things. It helps to use specific vocabulary in your written feedback. Writing “ this is great” is a nice vague comment but a better one is “This introduction to Moby Dick is great! It would make me want to read the book.” Now the student knows what your thought was great and also why you thought so. This information will help the student draw conclusions about the writing choices made in constructing that introduction and encourage the student to use them again.
Tone refers to the expressive quality of the feedback message, and it affects how the feedback will be taken by the student. The tone of the feedback is conveyed by word choice and style; these are much more than just linguistic niceties. They communicate underlying assumptions about the student, as was seen at the beginning of the module. The tone and word choice of feedback can situate the student as an active or passive player in the learning process. It is important point to keep in mind that it is not kind to always be positive when some criticism is warranted. Always focusing on the positive and never high-lightening what is wrong doesn’t help the students develop an accurate picture of what they know and don’t know how to do. It essence it is counterproductive to what feedback should do for a student. When you give students information that they can use to improve, and they see and understand that they can do it, research suggestions that many students will experience feelings of control over their learning.
Providing effective written feedback is most helpful for students when it is done in a manner that maximizes the chances that students will understand the feedback, gives guidance and offers suggestions for the next steps, and communicates respect for the student as an active learner.
Feedback perceptionstudy record-1
Written FeedbackAdapted from Susan Brookhart’s How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students Chapter Three
Providing Effective Written Feedback“Writing good feedback requires anunderstanding that language does morethan describe our world; it constructs ourworld.”
Written Feedback Examples– “ What did you think about when you chose that topic?”– “You won’t find much about carrier pigeons. That’s too narrow a topic. Pick something else.”
Providing Effective Written Feedback Specificity Clarity Tone
Clarity• Purpose: To maximize the chances that students will understand the feedback. Characteristics of Good Characteristics of Bad Feedback Clarity Feedback Clarity 1. Using simple vocabulary and 1. Using big words and complicated sentence structure. sentences. 2. Writing or speaking on the student’s 2. Writing to show what you know, not developmental level. what the student needs. 3. Checking that the student 3. Assuming the student understand understands the feedback. the feedback.
Specificity• Purpose: to give guidance but not to do the work for the students, as well as offer suggestions that are specific enough so the student knows what the next step to take.Characteristics of Good Characteristics of Bad Feedback Specificity Feedback Specificity1. Using nouns and descriptiveadjectives. 1. Using pronouns (this, that). 2. Copyediting or correcting every2. Describing concepts or criteria. error.3. Describing learning strategies that 3. Making vague suggestions (“Trymay be useful. harder”).
Tone• Purpose: – To communicate respect for the student as a learner. – To position the student as a agent (active, not passive). – To inspire thought, curiosity, or wondering. Characteristics of Good Characteristics of Bad Feedback Tone1. Using words and phrases that Feedback Toneassume the student is an active • Using words and phrases thatlearner. “lecture” or “boss”. 2. Telling the student what to do- leaving nothing up to the student’s2. Asking questions. choice.3. Sharing what you are wondering 3. Assuming that your feedback is theabout. last word, the final expert opinion.
Providing Effective Written Feedback Clarity Specificity Tone