Feedback To Students
Feedback can have a major impact on the achievement of our students. Studies in the education literature describe feedback as a teacher's best tool for helping students learn.
These Key Points for Good Feedback highlight the importance of feedback in learning and are intended to be a quick reference for teachers. They should be considered as a companion to the Senate Policy on Assessment of Student Learning (1997) and Ten Key Points for Good Practice in Teaching and Learning (HEDC 1999). It is hoped that the Key Points for Good Feedback and the database of feedback examples will encourage teachers to share feedback ideas and strategies.
Establish learning goals that are understood and shared by you and your students
Goals are meant to energize and direct behavior. They also provide a framework for feedback and simplify the task. To succeed, goals need to be clear, specific, and challenging. Further learning benefits can be achieved if the goals are defined collaboratively by students and their teacher. Students who participate in setting goals are more likely to internalize them and, as a result, become more highly motivated. The goals will be credible and useful only if teaching arrangements and assessment tasks are appropriate to the stated goals.
Help students to understand and recognize the desired standards
Students need to know what level of achievement is expected of them. Clear guidelines, which some teachers may choose to formalize into a learning contract, are very important. One consistent student complaint is that the criteria for assessment do not communicate clearly how their work is ultimately assessed. Guidelines should serve to clarify the learning task, communicate performance expectations, offer milestones from which students gauge their progress, and provide benchmarks linking task achievement with grade achievement. Clear guidelines also provide a helpful framework for providing feedback.
Encourage student reflection
Self-assessment is a vital component in learning. Feedback on assessment will be much more effective when students recognize that they can improve and identify what aspects of their work to address. To help accomplish this, teachers should go beyond making corrections and express feedback in a way that challenges students to think critically, perhaps by encouraging them to view their work from a different perspective; or assessment might incorporate formative feedback before final submission. If students are encouraged to critically examine and comment on their work, assessment can become more dialogue than monologue and can contribute powerfully to their educational development.
Help students to recognize how they can improve
Quality feedback comprises more than commenting on how well a student is doing at a particular point in time. It also provides advice on the next set of steps that the student will need to take. This guidance might include identifying specific issues that the student should work on, providing a list of references for the student to read, or posing a question that challenges the student's current way of thinking. Feedback becomes especially powerful if the marker can refer to feedback that has previously been given to the student.
Build student confidence
A balance needs to be struck between criticism and support. All feedback should be useful and constructive. Negative, overly critical, condescending or dismissive feedback will have a self-devaluing effect. Furthermore, students are likely to disregard such feedback. It is important to identify weaknesses in a way that suggests how they might be addressed. Nurturing student learning by reinforcing strengths will make students more receptive to the feedback they receive.
Provide prompt feedback
Feedback is most effective when the work it assesses is fresh in the learner's mind. At a minimum, feedback must be given in sufficient time to benefit students' subsequent work. Prompt feedback increases time spent in their learning.
Source: University of Ontago