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The Secret of Giving Effective FEEDBACK to Students

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July 11, 2017

The Secret of Giving Effective FEEDBACK to Students

It seems as if it was yesterday that I was a middle school student giving a class presentation on the importance of sports. I remember fumbling throughout the presentation. I had prepared well but somehow that did not go as the best presentation of my school life. However, it is definitely the most memorable one. All thanks to my class teacher who gave me the best feedback I have received till date.

Do you remember any such feedback given to you? To be more specific, any feedback which taught you a new way of carrying out the same activity, with much more ease and fun? Well if yes, you might want to hang on to that thought. It’s because what we are about to see is the science behind all the positive feedbacks.

Let us first understand what feedback is. Feedback is essentially any information that you give to your students to help them close the gap between where they are now with their work, and where they could be. The goal of feedback is to provide students with insight that helps them to improve their performance.

Giving feedback can be a difficult business. Yet when done in the right way and with the right intentions, feedback communication is the avenue to performance greatness. Students need to know what they are doing well and not so well. For them to really hear your thoughts and suggestions on ways to improve, through feedback has to be delivered carefully and frequently. Would you all agree with me if I say that giving effective feedback is a skill? And like all skills, it takes practice to improve with each given feedback.

Although there are no quick or easy answers, here are five tips for providing students with the kind of feedback that will increase motivation, build on existing knowledge, and help them reflect on what they’ve learned.

1. Create safety

Believe it or not, students who receive feedback apply it only about 30% of the time. If the person receiving the feedback doesn’t feel comfortable, this can cause the feedback to ultimately be unproductive. Create opportunities to build confidence and skills. This is especially effective when students are expecting to be graded. Confined situations in which they know they are being evaluated are good for giving feedback while learning skills.

2. Be specific

Tell the students exactly what they need to improve on. This ensures that you stick to facts and there is little room for ambiguity. If you tell someone they acted inappropriately, what does that mean exactly? Were they loud, unpunctual, casual or did they misbehave? Remember to stick to what you know firsthand.

3. The sooner the better

Numerous studies indicate that feedback is most effective when it is given immediately, rather than a few days, weeks, or months down the line. Of course, it’s not always possible to provide students with feedback right on the spot, but sooner is definitely better than later.

4. ‘I noticed’

Make an effort to notice a student’s behaviour or effort at a task. For example; ‘I noticed when you solved the problem step by step, and you got it right’; ‘I noticed you arrived on time to class this entire week’. Acknowledging students and the efforts they are making goes a long way to positively influence academic performance.

5. Invite students to give YOU feedback

Remember when you finished a class in school/college and you were given the chance to ‘grade’ the teacher? Why not let students give you feedback on how you are doing as a teacher? Try it sometime in your class and you might learn a thing or two about your students’ perspective of you. Make it so that they can do it anonymously. What did they like about your class? If they were teaching the class, what would they do differently? If we are open to it, we will quickly learn a few things about ourselves as educators.

Remember that feedback goes both ways and as teachers it is wise to never stop improving and honing our skills.

Abhijeet D Mandve is an engineer by qualification and a personality development trainer by profession. Under the aegis of his firm A.C.E (Assertive & Combined Education), he organises personality development workshops for various institutions. These workshops mainly focus on an individual’s current set of skills and also help him/her discover new ones.

Within these programmes, he has worked with a wide range of audience right from job aspirants, to students and teachers of SSC and CBSCE. His primary motive is to get people ready for the inevitable change. He considers himself a millennial, and tries to deliver his views through easy going and fun-filled sessions which make the learning activity very interesting. These sessions not only provide him a platform for improvement but also help him expand his own horizon. Any feedback is welcome at

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