Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Importance of Feedback #24

Part of my work is to give feedback to students about assessments and exercises. Usually, this takes the form of a general class feedback which can be followed up by individual feedback. Mostly, the general feedback is sufficient for students, I rarely get requests for individual feedback. I sometimes get requests for feedback on exam papers - students often question how they lost marks. When I go through the exam script with them, they always accept my grade as I point out what was good and bad about their paper. Students in general appreciate feedback, often with a view to doing better next time. It can be difficult providing feedback to students who has performed poorly or who have failed, but I find that honesty and directness is best is dealing with difficult situations.

Image source: Digital Thinking.

David Didau of The e Learning Spy gives us three reasons that make giving feedback worthwhile:

  1. Provide clarity
  2. Get students to increase effort
  3. Get students to increase aspiration

Clarity is essential so that students know how to improve. After all, we can all learn from our mistakes. But simply stating what mistakes were made will just show that there is room for improvement - getting students to improve by increasing their efforts following feedback is a challenge. So part of our feedback should be to show how improvements can be made. Not all students are hungry for achievement, many in my experience want to know enough to get by. Really useful feedback will not just clarify what improvements can be made and how to make them - motivating students to aspire to a better performance is really that last piece in what makes up good feedback.

For more on this check out Didau's excellent slideshare presentation at:

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