Feedback

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Feedback in education is very different from feedback at home plate (you’re safe or you’re out). It’s more like feedback as the soup is cooking: It’s almost ready to serve, cook the carrots a little longer, add some pepper.

Meaningful feedback gives students information they need to understand where they are headed in their learning, where they are now in their learning, and what steps they need to take to move forward. It can take place between teachers and students, from student to student, or as self-assessment.

FROM THE RESEARCH

Research supports what teachers know: That giving constructive, informative, and objective comments improves learning outcomes. It is best done in a reconciling way by inferring a better strategy, offering alternative options, and encouraging personal improvement.

“Feedback means that you can listen to children and accept their answers not as things to just be judged right or wrong but as pieces of information which may reveal what the child is thinking.” Easley and Zwoyer

Students given only comments scored on average 30% higher.” Grades resulted in no gain. Grades and comments cancelled the beneficial effects of comments. Ruth Butler

“Decades of research support the idea that by teaching less and providing more feedback, we can produce greater learning.” Robert Marzano (2001)

Feedback has an effect size of 1.13: The equivalent of one standard deviation. John Hattie (2009)

Positive learning outcomes were more likely when feedback focused on the features of the task. Kluger & DeNisi

“The mistake I was making was seeing feedback as something teachers provided to students… it was only when I discovered when it is from the student to the teacher that I started to understand it better.”
(Hattie and Timperley (2007)

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FEEDBACK LOOP

Feed-Up: Where am I going? What’s the learning target? What does quality work look like?
Feedback: How am I doing- includes descriptions of work in relation to learning targets
Feed Forward: What’s the next step(s)? How can I improve?

COMPARING EVALUATIVE and DESCRIPTIVE

Evaluative Descriptive
A- “Accurate work in discussing the main points. What can you now expand on?”
Try harder “Your hypothesis explains your idea. How can you rewrite yours as an if…then…statement?”
Good skills “You followed the process but made a mathematical error in step 2. Remember to check your multiplication.”

FOCUS of FEEDBACK

Task “I agree with your data, but also consider additional conclusions”
“When you swing the club, keep your head down.”
Process “To add depth, describe your character’s appearance in relation to her actions”
“Next time record both the x and y variables on your graph. Let me know what kind of help you need.”
Self-regulation “Once you decide on a topic, spend more time researching rather than chatting. Remember how last time your work improved when you focused on your writing?”
Goal “Let’s assume that is correct, but can you show how it connects to the purpose of the assignment?”
Action “It is clear that you learned a lot, but remember to also make eye contact and engage with your audience”

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TAKING ACTION:

  • Focus feedback on the learning target
  • Provide exemplars
  • Provide practical and actionable guidance
  • Offer comments that are specific, descriptive, understandable, and actionable
  • Focus on one or two key elements so as not to overwhelm
  • Guide the student in deciding what to do next
  • Timeliness is important: offer feedback sooner rather than later
  • Ask questions that require reflection and action
  • Encourage students as question-askers
  • Break down the task into smaller steps
  • Show connections to prior learning
  • Scaffold learning
  • Suggest alternative resources
  • Provide guides for self-assessing work

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Use feedback as part of a spectrum of strategies
  • Use feedback selectively based on students and setting
  • Use feedback responsively to inform instruction
  • Use feedback respectfully