With the perfect mix of praise, encouragement, and a pushes for students to grow in your instructional cauldron, it will be scarrrry how great your feedback to students will be!
Some Simple Tips
- Be Specific: Feedback is most meaningful for students when it addresses exactly how the student is performing. For example, “Great job!” and “Could use some work” have less of an impact than telling the student exactly what they did well (and can replicate for next time) as well as what they should improve.
- Have a Game Plan: Planning out what excellence looks like for each of the categories you will be assessing students on serves two purposes: it sets expectations for students and saves you time when you review their work. If you do not already have a grading rubric for homework and projects, try making one before you assign the work. This way, you can share standards of excellence with students before they begin work. When the time comes for you offer feedback, you have a clear set of guidelines by which to judge their work.
- Be Timely: Powerful feedback is feedback that students can put to use immediately while the concepts are fresh in their minds. Aim to provide students with feedback no later than one week after students submit their work.
- Take it Easy. Giving feedback should not be hard, and it should not take up all of your time. Use tools like rubrics and strategies like clumping students based on their abilities, time-boxing your feedback, and offering to give face-to-face feedback in order to save time and energy!
The Feedback Formula
- Let students know what they did well. Praising students’ achievements is important to help reinforce habits that you want to see students continue. It also helps them to be more receptive to suggestions for change that you may have and it is a useful motivator. It’s best to be specific about what they’ve done well so that students know exactly what to do again. For student who are really struggling, this could even be thanking them for their timely submission or for putting some effort into the work.
- Share some actionable criticism. Point out exactly where you see the student’s work could improve. As you do, remember that this is another opportunity for the student to learn so ask them questions that will direct their thinking toward the correct answer. You may want to tell the student exactly the next steps that they should take in order to improve, or provide the first step and ask them to fill in the rest. If the student’s work is completely missing the mark, ask them to schedule some time during office hours so that you can go into more depth on the topic.
- Encourage continued growth. Let the student know that you support their growth by signing off with a few words of encouragement. Ideas are:
- “Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
- “Thanks for sharing this work!”
- “With a few revisions, you’ll be on the right track!”
- “I can see you worked hard on this – thank you!”
- “Looking forward to your next assignment!”