Feedback is one of the most important things we do as educators. John Hattie's research indicates that feedback is one of the top ten influences on student achievement. Hattie describes quality feedback as being given against explicit criteria. Quality feedback also clarifies goals.
Feedback must be of high quality to have the influence on achievement that we desire. Carol Dweck warns against simply praising a student. Praising students can inadvertently lead to a fixed mindset. As an example, if you say "Great job, you are so smart," that might make a student feel good, but it is actually damaging. It sends the message that some people are smart and others are not.
So how do we avoid creating a fixed mindset and shift to a growth mindset? How do we make sure to create powerful and meaningful feedback.
Rick Wormeli says to "point and describe." Use "I noticed that you ____ and as a result _____." Comment on decisions rather than on the quality of the work.
An example of quality feedback could be:
"I notice that you used humor in your writing and as a result, you held my attention." This type of feedback is less personal. Yet, a young writer would take great pride in this comment. So, it is a compliment, but it doesn't pass judgement. The person receiving the feedback also knows that if they want to hold you attention, humor is a good way of doing that. It is informative and it can be repeated.
Wormeli notes effective protocol for data analysis and descriptive feedback uses the following:
Here's what-factual statement with no commentary
So what-interprets the data
Now what-plan of action that might include questions or next steps.
Example: Your students showed above average growth on the Maps test. This growth was greatest with your advanced students. What did you notice in your instruction with advanced students? How can that be implemented with other students in your class?
The power of feedback is undeniable. The effect size on learning is significant. We want to give feedback that is specific enough that children will learn when to utilize a strategy.
I noticed that you read this entire blog post. As a result, you are now more prepared to give good feedback.