The Power of Feedback I
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Feedback is a verbal, written, or a gestural response regarding a student’s academic standing or behaviour with an intention to improve his/her performance. The power of feedback is so strong that the process should be a positive or at least a neutral learning experience for the student. On the other hand, a negative feedback discourages student efforts and achievement. Teachers have the responsibility to nurture a student’s learning and so the feedback should not make him/her leave the classroom feeling failed and disappointed.
John Hattie and Helen Timperley, two educational researchers from New Zealand, in their widely-cited article, ‘The Power of Feedback’, give the purpose of feedback as “reducing the discrepancies between current understandings/performance and a desired goal.” Therefore, a powerful feedback not only tells students how they are approaching a goal, but also provides information about what is needed in order to achieve it. In other words, it should aim at providing them with an explanation as to what is accurate and inaccurate about their work.
In order to ensure that students increase their effort consistently and effectively, teachers must provide them with appropriate, challenging, and specific goals and assist them to reach them through the sharing of effective learning strategies and feedback. Timely feedback, for instance, given immediately after the results of a test, makes the student remember the areas that require improvement and where to give more focus. Use your comments and remarks to teach rather than to justify the grade, focusing on future goals.
According to Hattie and Timperley, a model feedback answers the following questions. Providing answers to these questions demonstrates your efforts as a teacher to help students ultimately become self-directed and inter-dependent lifelong learners.
|Where are you going?||How are you going?||Where to reach next?|
|What is the goal?||How did you do?||How can you improve?|
|What defines quality work?||What did you do well?||Does this information impact future assignments?|
|What difficulties should you be aware of?||Where did you miss the mark and how?||How to take your learning to the next level?|
How feedback is received by your students is equally important as how feedback is given. Teachers usually focus on giving feedback paying less attention to how they receive it, which helps learners understand the feedback provided. Failing to understand or misunderstanding the feedback may make the students unable to act on the instructions and comments. The more the students understand the feedback, the better they are able to harness its power to enhance teaching and learning by taking to their hearts the power of feedback.