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The ISR Handbook to Giving Effective Feedback

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1 The ISR Handbook to Giving Effective Feedback
Feedback, the fourth tenet of the Big Four, is a powerful aspect of the formative assessment process. Effective feedback is timely, specific/descriptive, useful to the learner(s), and allows the learner(s) an opportunity to respond to the feedback. However, not all feedback is effective. Evaluative or judgmental feedback is not always helpful. Because effective feedback is non-evaluative and non-coded, it considers improvement, not assessment nor evaluation. Both external and internal feedback are essential for student success. External feedback is input from a teacher or another student and internal feedback is self-regulation by the student. The ISR Handbook to Giving Effective Feedback is based on Susan M. Brookhart’s recently published book How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students. For more information, please consult Brookhart’s work.

2 Types of Feedback Timing
The purpose of giving timely feedback is twofold. First, students should receive feedback when they are still aware of the benchmark. Secondly, students need to receive timely feedback so they can act on it. It is ineffective to provide feedback if students are not mindful of the benchmark or if they do not have adequate time to act upon the feedback. Timing Examples of Good Feedback Timing Examples of Bad Feedback Timing · Returning a test or assignment the next day · Giving immediate oral responses to questions of fact · Giving immediate oral responses to student misconceptions · Proving flash cards (which give immediate right/wrong feedback) for studying facts · Returning a test or assignment two weeks after it is completed · Ignoring errors or misconceptions (thereby implying acceptance) · Going over a test or assignment when the unit is over and there is no opportunity to show improvement Source: Brookhart (2008)

3 Amount · Selecting two or three main points about a paper for comment
Types of Feedback The amount of feedback to provide a student is one of the most difficult decisions when giving feedback. The Goldilocks principle has been used when considering the amount of feedback. The principle states, “Not too much, not too little, but just right.” Therefore, the teacher must appropriately determine the just right amount of feedback based on student readiness and need. Students should receive enough feedback so they know what they need to do but not too much that the work has already been done for them. Amount Examples of Good Amounts of Feedback Examples of Bad Amounts of Feedback · Selecting two or three main points about a paper for comment · Giving feedback on important learning targets · Commenting on at least as many strengths as weaknesses · Returning a student’s paper with every error in mechanics edited · Writing comments on a paper that are more voluminous than the paper itself · Writing voluminous comments on poor-quality papers and almost nothing on good-quality papers Source: Brookhart (2008)

4 Types of Feedback Mode Feedback mode considers how to communicate the feedback message appropriately. Some assignments lend themselves to written feedback, others oral feedback. Still, feedback is most appropriately given on some occasion by way of demonstration or conversation (conferencing). The teacher should consider the student’s reading ability to determine if the feedback mode should be oral or written. However, teachers are not able to conference with each student about everything; therefore, teachers must use their professional judgment to make the decision concerning feedback mode. Examples of Good Feedback Mode Examples of Bad Feedback Mode · Using written feedback for comments that students need to be able to save and look over · Using oral feedback for students who don’t read well · Using oral feedback if there is more information to convey than students would want to read · Demonstrating how to do something if the student needs to see how to do something or what something “looks like” · Speaking to students to save yourself the trouble of writing · Writing to students who don’t read well Source: Brookhart (2008)

5 Types of Feedback The issue of appropriateness is important not only in feedback mode but also in feedback audience. Feedback is most effective when it is specific and descriptive to the individual learner so that the learner can respond to it. By identifying the intended audience, a teacher can provide specific, corrective feedback. It is possible to give effective feedback to either a small group or the whole group when all members would benefit from the same message such as a mini-lesson or review for a test. However, providing feedback to an individual student in a group setting is not effective if all members of the group would not benefit from it. Audience Examples of Good Choice of Audience Examples of Bad Choice of Audience · Communicating with an individual, giving information specific to the individual performance · Giving group or class feedback when the same mini-lesson or reteaching session is required for a number of students · Using the same comments for all students · Never giving individual feedback because it takes too much time Source: Brookhart (2008)

6 Types of Feedback Feedback Focus It is important for teachers to understand the benchmarks in order to describe qualities of acceptable work. Teachers observe students throughout the learning process and implement strategies to help them improve. Another important aspect of feedback focus is fostering self-efficacy. Finally, it is important for teachers to avoid making personal comments. Examples of Good Feedback Focus Examples of Bad Feedback Focus · Making comments about the strengths and weaknesses of a performance · Making comments about the work process you observed or recommendations about a work process · Making comments that position the student as the one who chooses to do the work · Avoiding personal comments · Making comments that bypass the student (e.g., “This is hard” instead of “You did a good job because . . .”) · Making criticisms without offering any insights into how to improve · Making personal compliments or digs (e.g., “How could you do that?” or “You idiot!”) Source: Brookhart (2008)

7 Types of Feedback There are three reference points for grades. The first is norm-referencing. This occurs when a teacher compares a student’s performance to that of another student or students. The weakness with norm-referencing is that students do not receive specific, descriptive feedback that will allow them to improve. Another reference point for grades is referencing to knowledge gain. This is when teachers attempt to base a student’s grade on how much knowledge was gained. The problem with this type of referencing is that different criteria are used. The best reference point for grades is criterion-referencing. Criterion-referencing occurs when a teacher compares a student’s performance to a learning target. Feedback based on this type of referencing generates student action and directs attention to a task, not to self. Comparison Examples of Good Kinds of Comparisons Examples of Bad Kinds of Comparisons · Comparing work to student-generated rubrics · Comparing student work to rubrics that have been shared ahead of time · Encouraging a reluctant student who has improved, even though the work is not yet good · Putting up wall charts that compare students with one another · Giving feedback on each student’s work according to different criteria or no criteria

8 Types of Feedback As previously mentioned, specific and descriptive feedback is more effective than evaluative feedback. Research suggests that students do not pay as much attention to descriptive feedback if there is an evaluative comment or grade that accompanies it. Therefore, it is essential to allow students many opportunities to practice and receive feedback without receiving a grade or evaluative comments. Giving feedback and few opportunities to use that feedback is a futile exercise. Function Examples of Good Feedback Function Examples of Bad Feedback Function · Identifying for students the strengths and weaknesses in the work · Expressing what you observe in the work · Putting a grade on work intended for practice or formative purposes · Telling students the work is “good” or “bad” · Giving rewards or punishments · Giving general praise or general criticism Brookhart (2008)

9 Types of Feedback Feedback Valence Feedback valence has two purposes. First, it is important that the feedback given is positive and highlights the things done well by the student. Secondly, suggestions should be provided so students specifically know how to improve. Examples of Good Feedback Valence Examples of Bad Feedback Valence · Being positive · Even when criticizing, being constructive · Making suggestions (not prescriptions or pronouncements) · Finding fault · Describing what is wrong and offering no suggestions · Punishing or denigrating students for poor work

10 Written Feedback Feedback Clarity
Types of Feedback Written feedback occurs when a teacher writes comments on student work, a rubric, or a cover sheet for an assignment. Therefore, written feedback is very appropriate for formal assignments. When providing written feedback, it is essential to be clear and concise, specific, and conscientious of tone. Teachers must carefully choose their words to promote self-efficacy in students as well as the managing, or regulating, of that learning. Through written feedback, teachers can help students decide what is next to do on the road to improvement. Written Feedback Feedback Clarity Feedback clarity maximizes a student’s understanding of the feedback. Examples of Good Feedback Clarity Examples of Bad Feedback Clarity · Using simple vocabulary and sentence structure · Writing or speaking on the student’s developmental level · Checking that the student understands the feedback · Using big words and complicated sentences · Writing to show what you know, not what the student needs · Assuming the student understands the feedback

11 Types of Feedback Feedback Specificity Feedback specificity offers “just right” guidance to the student without doing the work for the student. The teacher’s suggestions must be specific enough so students know what to do next in order to improve. Examples of Good Feedback Specificity Examples of Bad Feedback Specificity · Using a lot of nouns and descriptive adjectives · Describing concepts or criteria · Describing learning strategies that may be useful · Using a lot of pronouns (this, that) · Copyediting or correcting every error · Making vague suggestions (“Study harder”)

12 Feedback Tone and Word Choice
Types of Feedback Feedback tone and word choice communicate respect for the learner. The student should be positioned to be an active agent in his/her improvement, not a passive bystander. Through written feedback, the teacher can inspire a thought and curiosity in students to excite them in the learning process. Feedback Tone and Word Choice Examples of Good Tone and Word Choice Examples of Bad Tone and Word Choice · Using words and phrases that assume the student is an active learner · Asking questions · Sharing what you are wondering about · Using words and phrases that “lecture” or “boss” · Telling the student what to do—leave no choice for the student · Assuming that your feedback is the last word, the final expert opinion

13 Oral Feedback “Quick and Quiet” Feedback
Types of Feedback Oral feedback occurs when a teacher provides oral guidance to correct the learner, point out successes, and generate student action. Oral feedback is broader than written feedback; therefore, it is often appropriate for informal assignments. Oral Feedback “Quick and Quiet” Feedback · Individual, extemporaneous · Addresses one point · Done when other students are doing seatwork · Should be routine

14 Out-of-Class Student Conferencing
Types of Feedback Out-of-Class Student Conferencing · Ideal for students who need extra help or who are doing advanced work · Before or after school · Use sparingly and with a knowledge of school culture (e.g., will the student feel like he/she is receiving “detention” if asked to stay after class?) When and Where to Give Group Feedback According to Brookhart, there are four common ways to provide oral feedback to a whole group. At the start of a lesson, summarizing your observations At the beginning of a review or reteaching lesson, to explain why you are focusing on the same learning target again and to link to prior learning and set a purpose for students During student performances, either live or videotaped When a test or assignment is returned, summarizing overall strengths and weaknesses

15 Feedback Strategies Can Vary in.. . In These Ways
Recommendations for Good Feedback Timing • When given • How often • Provide immediate feedback for knowledge of facts (right/wrong). • Delay feedback slightly for more comprehensive reviews of student thinking and processing. • Never delay feedback beyond when it would make a difference to students. •Provide feedback as often as it is practical, for all major assignments. Amount •How many point made • How much about each point • Prioritize—pick the most important points. •Choose points that relate to major learning goals. •Consider the student’s developmental level. Mode •Oral •Written •Visual /demonstration •Select the best mode for the message. Would a comment in passing the student’s desk suffice? Is a conference needed? •Interactive feedback (talking with the student) is best when possible. Audience •Individual •Group/class •Individual feedback says, “The teacher values my learning.” •Group/class feedback works if most of the class missed the same concept on an assignment, which presents an opportunity for reteaching.

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