Think of feedback as any response you make to students' efforts. Sometimes the feedback is written as and when you mark students' work; sometimes it is face to face as in a tutoring session. Marks, reports and annotations or comments on written assignments are the most obvious types of feedback that spring to mind.
In fact, consciously or unconsciously, we are giving students feedback all the time: facial expressions, tone of voice, and especially words all say a lot about our expectations and the quality of the responses to those expectations.
In a technical psychological sense, there is little learning without feedback. However there is more learning if the following conditions surround it:
Giving feedback is a genre all its own. Word choice matters. Tone matters. For example, consider these two comments written in the margin of a student essay: "You aren't clear here" and "I don't see what you mean here." Both intend to convey the same thing, but the first sounds more judgmental and the second, more descriptive. This chapter gives tips and strategies for clearly communicating the intended messages. It also discusses deciding on the method to use for giving written feedbackâfor example, writing comments directly on student work or making notes on a rubric or an assignment cover sheet.
Feedback, like any communication, depends on the sender and the receiver, as well as on the message itself. So far we've concentrated in this book mostly on the message (the feedback) and how you, the teacher, will send it. This chapter considers the receivers or hearers of your message. Students have to hear and understand feedback before they can use it for improvement. The chapter provides suggestions for adjusting feedback for different types of learners, including successful students, struggling students, English language learners, and reluctant students who perceive themselves as "failures" (whether labeled as having special needs or not).
One problem we often have as instructors is seeing our feedback from the student's perspective. What seems very clear to us is not always seen that way by the students. In the comments that follow, three students reveal what they think about the feedback they get from their instructors.
Using feedback from teachers does not come naturally to all students. This chapter explores ways to teach students how to use teacher feedback to improve their own work. The chapter also explores the usefulness of the feedback that comes from self- and peer assessment, both of which have their place and also their limits