What is Effective Feedback?
Feedback is information that our students receive about their behaviour in class, their lab reports, homework, assignments, exams, presentations, etc. Effective feedback always tries to help students understand what areas are good and what areas needs to be improved in their behaviour and work. Giving constructive feedback is a delicate skill that needs tact and consideration and needs to be practiced.
Who can Give Feedback?
Feedback can come from many sources: teachers; class mates; tutors; family members; and students themselves, especially if they are encouraged to evaluate their behaviour and work and critique it themselves. Helping our students give each other feedback which is thoughtful and considerate, is an important life skill to practice.
Useful Forms of Feedback
The most common formal forms of feedback our students receive are oral and written feedback. However, informally, body language and sighs also give clear messages to our students and ourselves. A helpful practice is for us to remain as professional as possible and to provide examples of excellent behaviour and work (sometimes providing examples of poor work can also make a point), to our students. To deliver formal feedback most successful, we must allow opportunities for our students to use the feedback they receive to re-submit a lab report or assignment, or to complete another similar report or assignment. Assessments that provide a scaffold effect of first draft, revised draft, and final submission are excellent ways to encourage students to pay attention to the feedback they receive, before submitting their final assessment.
Offering students an opportunity to evaluate and discuss their work with their peers, helps our students to identify the strengths and weakness of another’s work, as well as their own work. It helps students develop their judgement and evaluation skills of differing levels of quality. This also encourages students to practice giving feedback and becoming more independent thinkers and learners. Once again, diplomacy and tact must be emphasized.
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Wilma Brown, Pedagogical Development Office (PDO)