Good feedback helps your learners get closer to achieving the goals you have for them, and can also bring more meaning to your relationship with them as an educator. Here are a few suggestions for crafting effective feedback.
Do not just praise or criticize. The most effective feedback does three things. First, it provides an appreciation for learners’ efforts. Second, it welcomes errors as an opportunity for learning. Third, it is specific and actionable: it focuses on what is incorrect or could be improved, how it can be improved, and why. Generic praise, by contrast, is often ignored, while punitive feedback is both ineffective and likely to foster a negative social climate.
Provide individualized feedback. Learners who are at different places in their learning respond to different types of feedback. Beginning learners typically need assurance, correction, and indications of which way is the right direction; while more advanced learners need their extended time and efforts recognized. Differences in ability levels can make group feedback less effective and less relevant to some learners.
Make expectations clear. Providing explicit guidance “what success looks like” up front will not only communicate to learners where they currently are in their progress, but will provide an understanding of where they need to go to be successful.
Make learners active participants in the assessment process. If possible, provide learners with a range and choice of varied feedback opportunities and offer opportunities for learners to offer feedback to their peers and also the strengths and weaknesses of their own learning performance.
Make feedback helpful. Learners’ views of feedback are influenced by their beliefs about learning, motivation, and previous learning experiences. Encourage your learners to value feedback and empower them to learn how to use it. Furthermore, be sure that the assessments you have designed are aligned with your learning goals.
Evans, C. (2013). Making sense of assessment feedback in higher education. Review of Educational Research, 83(1), 70–120.
Hattie, J.A.C. & Yates, G.C.R. (2014). Using feedback to promote learning. In V.A. Benassi, C.E. Overson, & C.M. Hakala (Eds.), Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum (pp. 45-58). The Society for the Teaching of Psychology.