September 8th, 2016

8 Tips for Meaningful Student Feedback

As a teacher you probably realize what an important role feedback plays in enhancing learning and improving students’ achievement. When learning new skills and knowledge, students want to know whether they’re on the right track. So it’s important that feedback is given in a constructive and meaningful way.

It turns out, negative or corrective feedback is often counterproductive in the learning process. Here are eight safe tips to help you deliver meaningful feedback to your students and boost their learning experience.


1. Rely on concrete data

It’s a good idea to develop tools that help you measure learning material comprehension or skill mastery. This type of measurable data provides an excellent foundation for meaningful feedback. It helps students understand where exactly they need to improve and shows them how well they’re performing in other aspects of the task.

This is where you can use a rubric or a smarter way of compiling data as your tool for visualizing and communicating expectations for a specific assignment. For instance you can show students their performance in comparison to an established range of standards, or highlight rubric items which the student meets for encouragement.


2. Focus on what students are doing right

Every piece of feedback you give should be more about the positive than the negative. Try the ratio of 3 positive things to 1 negative. You’ll see that once students are praised, they’ll pay close attention to what you’re saying in order to get even better.  It’s important to nurture your students and keep them feeling motivated.


3. Refer to specific knowledge or skill

Feedback in the vein of “Great job!” is basically useless. It sounds nice, but it doesn’t tell the learner what they did right. In the same way, saying something like “Not bad, but you’re not there yet” doesn’t help students to understand what exactly they did wrong or tell them how to do it better next time.

When delivering feedback, be as specific as possible. Take the time to provide learners with information on what they did well and what still needs improvement. Also, let them know about their progress by showing what they’re doing differently than before. Even if they’ve got a long way to go, knowing that they’ve improved provides that extra boost of confidence for further engagement.


4. Ask these questions

Learners like to know their progress. Ask yourself these four questions on a regular basis and you’ll be able to deliver meaningful feedback not only to students, but parents as well:

  • What can the student do?
  • What can’t the student currently do?
  • How does their work compare with that of others?
  • How can they do better?


5. Keep track of students’ progress

It’s important to track the learning progress of every single student. This is how you’ll be able to accurately assess their performance. Set up a special notebook where you’ll write comments every week or term about their work.

Keep track of good questions students ask, together with test scores, areas of improvement or behavior problems. Once you’re in a meeting with students and their parents, you’ll have a resource of hard data showing exactly how they’re doing and what they could do better.


6. Involve students in the process of collecting and analyzing data

Involving learners in collecting their own performance-based data is a great idea. Students need to be granted access to this information. Show learners how they’re studying, researching information, answering questions or reading.

For their own good, they should be aware of how close they are to reaching critical learning objectives. Once they develop an awareness of their learning, they’ll be able to pinpoint their mistakes and use your tips to deal with areas of weakness.


7. Make it actionable

Make sure your feedback is instructive and contains concrete tips to help guide students in the right direction. It’s not enough to communicate how they performed. You should also provide them with information on how to improve performance.


8. Allow students to give you feedback as well

Be open to receiving feedback yourself and give students opportunities to do so in an anonymous manner. Ask them what they liked and disliked about your class.

If they were the ones to teach the class, what would they do differently? Which class do they remember best? When did they learn the most from you? Mutual feedback opens the door to improvement for both students and teachers.

By delivering meaningful feedback to your students, you’re bound to boost their motivation and create a learning environment that favors open communication, and effectively enhances the overall learning experience.

Zoe Anderson is a blogger and a part of the team behind
StudySelect. Zoe is a self-learner, deeply interested in new eLearning trends. In her free time, she travels, learning new languages and meeting new cultures.