Good Feedback Causes Thinking
I loved this prezi that recaptured again what Assessment for Learning truly means. Within it is a video on giving feedback from Dylan Williams and in it he says something that was quite profound for me this afternoon… “Good feedback causes thinking.”
As a Social Studies and Language Arts teacher, I struggle – as oftentimes offering feedback can be quite a monumental task. But – this question makes me think – are the notes and suggestions I offer in the margins truly valuable to my students? Do they foster thinking? Or – does it merely cause an emotional reaction within my students. Do my comments cause them to immediately think “Yay – she liked it” or “Shoot, she didn’t” and just move on to the next task?
Does my feedback propel further, greater learning???
I came across a fantastic resource entitled “How To Give Effective Feedback To Your Students” by Susan M. Brookhart published by ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) which offers some fantastic suggestions and explanations of the nuances of giving feedback.
“Good feedback contains information that a student can use, which means that the student has to be able to hear and understand it. Students can’t hear something that’s beyond their comprehension; nor can they hear something if they are not listening or are feeling like it would be useless to listen. Because students’ feelings of control and self-efficacy are involved, even well-intentioned feedback can be very destructive. (“See? I knew I was stupid!”) The research on feedback shows its Jekyll-and-Hyde character. Not all studies about feedback show positive effects. The nature of the feedback and the context in which it is given matter a great deal.
Good feedback should be part of a classroom assessment environment in which students see constructive criticism as a good thing and understand that learning cannot occur without practice. If part of the classroom culture is to always “get things right,” then if something needs improvement, it’s “wrong.” If, instead, the classroom culture values finding and using suggestions for improvement, students will be able to use feedback, plan and execute steps for improvement, and in the long run reach further than they could if they were stuck with assignments on which they could already get an A without any new learning.”
I liked that reference to Jekyll and Hyde – how true? Sometimes giving feedback can be a delicate balance of too much, too little, timeliness, form and content. However, this book offers some great suggestions. Check it out and also, as you give feedback this week in school – think about your words and ask yourself the following questions to see if your feedback is doing what it should:
1) Are your students learning more, deeper, or better because of your feedback?
2) Are your students motivated by your feedback?
3) Is achievement or reaching certain standards increasing because of your feedback?