Feedback to Feedforward
The purpose of education is to help students achieve the best they can, and more! None of us know our own potential, so feedback can be vital, it can be inspiring and motivational, but it can also be devastating. So, here are a few tips on how to give feedback so that it ignites that spark for our students rather than discourages them.
As teachers, we often ask students to complete a task or an assignment without ever showing them what is expected. Having exemplars for students, or even using role models for practical tasks, can all help motivate students to achieve similar or better results.
This is so important. Giving feedback that is timely has a meaningful purpose to the student. If it is not timely, research shows the moment of opportunity has gone! If you are able to mark alongside students in real-time, even better as it has a direct and immediate effect.
Feedback should always be objective and focused on a skill or specific knowledge depending on the nature of work being assessed. Rubrics are useful here (a set of criteria for an assignment or task - these can be set by the exam board and adapted as need be) as it can help to structure feedback very specifically and objectively.
Keeping the focus on one aspect of skill or knowledge can prevent students feeling overwhelmed, especially at the beginning of a course, and it can help students negotiate their own achievement and set their own targets. If students feel involved in the target-setting process, they will work more independently towards achieving these targets.
Consider the format of how feedback is given. More often than not, feedback is written. Teachers often complain that the pains-taking feedback they have written has not been read by their students as the same mistakes appear in the next assignment or practical task. In my own experience, I have found that having one-to-one discussions with students which are recorded is far more effective. The student then emails the teacher, or responds via some other social media platform, with a summary of the feedback discussion and the key areas for development. In this way, the student more actively engages with the feedback process and buys into the areas for feedforward development.
Consider opportunities where it is appropriate for students to give feedback to each other. Using a rubric here can keep feedback objective and focused on process rather than ability. However, students may need some supported guidance on how to give constructive feedback effectively if they have never been given the opportunity to do this before. Instilling the ability to reflect and evaluate their own work can help students to then translate these skills when assessing their peers’ work.
Feedback is one of the most powerful aspects of a student’s experience of education. It can inspire and it can discourage in equal measure, so how we give feedback, to feedforward positively in a student’s development is vital. Whatever your approach, ensure it is;
- I: Immediate
Inverting this well-known abbreviation, we can ensure that the spotlight is on the feedback and not on the individual.