The purpose of giving feedback to students is far more important than simply issuing a course grade. Feedback provides the student with their position relative to the learning goals and it suggests strategies and processes that will help them improve or reach the learning goal. Feedback can also assist students in developing their self-efficacy by connecting their work, and therefore their effort, to the learning goals. Feedback, when used effectively, is an important part of the formative assessment process.
Feedback can be formal or informal, delayed or immediate, positive or negative. “Feedback about the qualities of the work and feedback about the process or strategies used to do the work are most helpful. The feedback that draws students’ attention to their self-regulation strategies or their abilities as learners can be effective if students hear it in a way that makes them realize they will get the results they want if they expend effort and attention. Personal comments (“Good girl!”) do not draw students’ attention to their learning” (Brookhart, 2008, ¶13).
There are different types of feedback:
Jonas-Dwyer and Siddiqui (2006) indicate that the timing of feedback is critical:
The effectiveness of feedback is highly reliant on a number of factors. These include the skills and abilities of faculty staff in providing feedback, students’ readiness to receive and act on feedback, and the environment itself. The timing of feedback can also have an impact on its effectiveness. Feedback can be immediate, delayed, or reinforced (p. 4).
Immediate feedback is best if the intent is to be a formative process. Also, feedback that defines the nature of the errors in the process, rather than a one-time fix is found to be most effective (Jonas-Dwyer & Siddiqui, 2006).
Implications for the Classroom
- Give feedback early and often that focuses on how students can improve processes or skills
- Ask Socratic questions in the feedback that stimulate critical thinking and reflection
- Use rubrics to provide students an assignment framework of expectations and to keep grading and feedback more objective and organized
- Give explanations for where mistakes were made or ask students to self-correct answers
- Consider using the sandwich method of feedback: give positive feedback, then negative feedback, followed by positive feedback
On the Web
- Higher Education Academy: Assessment and Feedback
- Enhancing Student Learning Through Effective Formative Feedback
- Effective Feedback in the Classroom
Deeprose, C., & Armitage, C. (2004). Giving formative feedback in higher education. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 4(1), 43. doi:10.2304/plat.2004.4.1.43
Jonas-Dwyer, D., & Siddiqui, Z. (2006). Feedback in Higher Education: A Literature Review. Retrieved from: http://www.academia.edu/172431/Feedback_in_Higher_Education
Jonsson, A., Avdelningen för Naturvetenskap, Forskningsmiljön Learning in Science and Mathematics (LISMA), Sektionen för lärande och miljö, & Högskolan Kristianstad. (2013). Facilitating productive use of feedback in higher education. Active Learning in Higher Education, 14(1), 63-76. doi:10.1177/1469787412467125
Savin-Baden, M. (2010). The sound of feedback in higher education. Learning, Media and Technology, 35(1), 53-64. doi:10.1080/17439881003671128
Trienekens, N., Fukkink, R. G., & Kramer, L. J. C. (2010). Video feedback in education and training: Putting learning in the picture. Educational Psychology Review, 23(1), 45.