Reviewing, communicating and feedback.
When learning is the goal of any project, then teachers and students enter a constant feedback loop. How – and how often – that feedback is structured is essential to success. Educators refer to the importance of formative assessments that provide mid-course corrections rather than relying on final or summative assessments. How mid-course feedback occurs determines whether students actually understand where they are in the learning process.
In How Looking at Student Work Keeps Teachers and Kids on Track, Katrina Schwartz at Mind/Shift addresses the dilemma: most student work is only read by teachers. Not only that, but intermediate progress checks may be infrequent. One thing that research has shown is that good feedback needs to be targeted, specific and timely.
What is Good Feedback?
- It is targeted. That is, it is linked to learning objectives.
- It provides specific guidance to students.
- It is timely.
Researchers such as Carol Dweck are working on helping students develop academic or growth mindset. It is important that students believe in their own ability to succeed. One thing Dweck notes is that students can influence their own learning.
Mindsets: How Students Can Influence Their Own Learning
- Belonging to an academic community: feeling connected
- Belief in the likelihood of success
- The work has meaning and value
- Belief that abilities and intelligence can grow with effort
When evaluating or reviewing student work, a rubric may be important, but it is not enough. When communicating with students, it is just as important to state why you, the teacher, are giving feedback at this point. It is how they will eventually internalize the ability to reflect on their own learning.
There is a critical difference between praise and feedback. Praise is not tied to learning results or performance, whereas feedback is. It is not a question of whether work is good or bad, but rather how the work expresses one’s goal. Feedback is an interactive, two-way street.
Sometimes teachers, parents and others are caught up in the dilemma of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Many people have what can best be described as an uncertain alliance with criticism. Rather than informing and strengthening a product, those in positions of authority who are giving feedback confuse the value of the person with the status of student work. Perhaps the question is whether the confusion is on the receiving end (the student) or the giving end (teacher). Nonetheless, it is a problem.
Students listen to their peers
Peer influence is huge with pre-teens and teenagers. Teachers can learn to leverage student feedback by how they structure the learning environment in their classes. It is not always about whether the teacher is the only person who can give useful feedback, it is also about how students help each other understand.