6 Tips to Make Your Feedback More Effective

These days, teachers have a large number of tools in their teaching toolbox. But do you know which one is most likely to transform student learning?

According to education experts such as John Hattie, who has evaluated thousands of studies, effective feedback has a greater effect on student learning and achievement than any other teaching strategy. With this in mind, we’ve gathered six tips for providing more effective and positive feedback that you can use every day in the classroom.

1. Provide Formative Feedback to Promote Student Growth

At its simplest, the goal of formative feedback is to help students progress from where they are to where they should be. To do this more effectively, follow these two basic steps every time you give feedback:

  1. Talk to your students about their current state of performance.
  2. Give them detailed and specific direction on how they can improve.

2. Use the “Feedback Sandwich” to Keep Feedback Positive

When providing feedback to students, it’s easy to stay positive when you follow the “feedback sandwich” rule, which states that whenever you offer a corrective comment, sandwich it between two positive comments.

Example: “You’re showing good improvement with [strength]. Now let’s try [describe desired skill]. All in all, you are doing well with [strength].”

3. Give Timely and Frequent Feedback

Giving timely feedback to students is critical to their growth, so deliver your feedback in a timely manner or in any teachable moment. Frequent feedback is essential to active learning, so make sure it comes often.

Frequency Guideline for Early Learners

Keep in mind that young students need to hear positive feedback six times more frequently than corrective feedback. This rate can be scaled back as proficiency increases.

4. Include Students in Feedback Activities

Research by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam suggests that students who offer feedback to others and engage in self and peer assessments see bigger academic gains and deeper learning. When doing so, keep the following in mind:

  • Give your students age-appropriate opportunities to assess their own work and engage in peer-review activities
  • Create a simple peer review and feedback rubric to provide guidance
  • Keep the process anonymous, which typically results in better feedback

Feedback Activity

Have students create a detailed classroom map that marks where they’ve hidden an object. Students swap maps and are tasked with finding the hidden object. After, have them share feedback on how successful and accurate their maps were and provide suggestions on how they could improve their maps.

5. Give Feedback That Supports a Growth Mindset

Use the following feedback strategies to develop a growth mindset for your students:

  • Focus feedback on specific tasks rather than a student’s abilities
  • Employ learning activities that encourage curiosity, exploration, and risk taking
  • Recognize effort—praise can keep a student persistent long enough to master a skill

6. Keep Your Body Language Positive

Feedback will always be more effective when accompanied by positive body language and nonverbal cues. Make sure your tone of voice and facial expressions convey a caring attitude. When possible, make eye contact at the child’s eye level. Show enthusiasm, which displays an excitement for learning.

Effective feedback not only promotes deeper learning for students, but it also gives teachers deeper insights into the learning process, which in turn helps them better guide their students to academic success.

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