Day 14: What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?
Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge. There’s a lot of ways to acquire knowledge. As teachers, we are taught about the ways that are most and least effective to pass on knowledge to our students. It’s kind of intuitive, right? Lecture is not high on the effectiveness scale. Learning by doing or teaching others is high on the effectiveness scale. It just makes sense.
Then, there’s another part to the learning process; learning what works and what doesn’t AND learning why things work and why they don’t work. This is feedback and it is essential for learning to take place.
Feedback is the lifeblood of teachers and we most commonly associate it with the grading process. We let the students know what they got wrong and what the right answers are. When we grade essays, we let the students know how they can improve and what to keep doing for next time. It’s not just grading where we provide feedback. When we ask students questions we’re providing feedback too. When we provide detailed and constructive feedback we are moving the learning process forward for our students.
If I had to rate my effectiveness in providing feedback, I’d say it’s a mixed bag.
In class, I’m really good. I try hard to explain to students why their answers are right or wrong and make sure they understand why they’re right or wrong. This leads to a lot of productive class discussions where I feel like I can actually see the wheels turning in my students’ heads.
In tests, homework, and essays I’m good in that I provide detailed feedback. The problem is that I don’t always get the feedback back to the students as quickly as I should. That’s the thing with feedback; students need it as soon as possible for it to have the greatest impact. It’s one of those things that I know and strive to provide but somehow always have problems with. I’m the worst with essays. I hate grading them because I do provide so much feedback that I tend to put them at the bottom of my to-do list. This is a really important area that I need to work on so that I can provide my students with the best opportunities to learn.
This year, I vow to improve the quality, quantity, and turn-around time of the feedback I provide.