How to Give Feedback to Boost Student Achievement
In Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Zaretta Hammond, states that "feedback is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve learning." Without quality feedback it is impossible to improve in a skill.
On the other hand simply providing feedback doesn't necessarily equal change. The feedback must be accepted by the learner and put into practice.
So then how do we harness the power of feedback to boost student achievement? The following are four characteristics of quality feedback:
1.) Feedback Must Be Instructive Rather than Evaluative
There is a difference between feedback and praise. While praise may sound like, "good job," quality instructive feedback sounds like, "In the first sentence of your paragraph you need to indent."
Feedback is also not advice. Quality feedback is providing students actionable, specific information, with the goal of improvement in mind.
2.) Feedback Should Be Specific and Not Overwhelming
Feed back is not pointing out everything that a student did wrong. I made this mistake early on in my teaching career by handing my students back their writing rough drafts covered in corrections. The look on their faces was crushing.
Rather than pointing out every little error, focus in on only one or two points that will have the greatest impact on student achievement.
3.) Feedback Needs to Be Timely
Feedback must be given in a reasonable time frame while the content is still fresh in students' brains. After all, even adults have a difficult time being reflective if too much time has passed.
4.) Feedback Must Be Given in a Low Stakes Supportive Environment
Feedback can be difficult for some students to receive. Even teachers can get anxious or defensive when given feedback on our teaching. Our students are the same way. This is why creating a strong classroom culture is so important. Mastery takes place by learning from mistakes, and students are not free to make mistakes in an unsafe learning environment.
For tips on setting up your classroom culture at the beginning of the year check out Getting Students to Buy-In On the First Day of School.
These tips for giving feedback are from Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, by Zaretta Hammond. To learn more about feedback and how it applies to culturally responsive teaching and brain research you can get the book on Amazon. I highly recommend it!
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