What is feedback?
Feedback is commonly thought of as teacher comments or advice that accompany class assessments. It can be written or spoken and can be given in an individual or group setting.
Giving good feedback is important to help motivate students in their studies, especially as we move towards the busy exam period at the end of the year. During this period, students will need all the help they can get to push forward during one of the most stressful times in the year.
Let’s look at some ways that you can give ideal feedback, and how to recognise feedback that may affect a student’s performance.
Giving constructive feedback not only motivates students to perform better, but also increases their willingness to learn and improve their skills further. To give ideal feedback, it should be:
Encourage your students to do better than they did before. If a student has performed well on a test, encourage them to continue striving for a better grasp of the content.
“You missed the mark for this question but I’m sure you’ll get it right next time!”
“Great job on understanding this topic so well! Revise it regularly so that you don’t forget.”
Take note of specific things that your student demonstrated in their work. Mention it in your feedback so that your students know that you read all their work carefully and have recognised the effort that they have put in.
“Your answer to question 12 was concise and accurate.”
“The explanation for the third point of your essay was clear and convincing.”
Give your student guiding questions for them to reflect on their answers. Point out their weaknesses and urge them to work on those weaknesses.
“You claimed that Singapore should have more chicken farms to reduce reliance on other countries for chicken. Singapore is already one of the most densely populated countries on Earth. How do you think we can source space for those farms?”
When feedback is delivered in a way that is negative and highlights the student’s poor performance over their efforts, it can heavily affect a student’s motivation and self-esteem. While negative feedback can be effective in some situations as we tend to remember it better, it is still best to avoid feedback that is:
Do not attempt to shame your students into doing better. This is especially so in a group setting. Humiliating your student will lower their self-esteem and cause them to distrust you.
“The whole class passed the test except Jo.”
“I’ve explained this topic to you thrice. There must be something wrong with you if you still don’t understand it.”
Do not use standard phrases for all the feedback you give. They will sound insincere and obligatory eventually.
“Keep up the good work!”
Do not make assumptions about your students. Making baseless assumptions will make them feel like they are being stereotyped and misunderstood.
“You scored lower on this test than on the last. This is what happens when you get lazy.”
“It’s because you play too many games and watch too many videos that you performed badly. You should have spent more time on revising for your exams.”
What outcome should your feedback inspire?
Recent research in the area of pedagogy has brought about change to the way we view feedback. Instead of being a product, it should ideally be a part of the process of learning. This means that feedback from teachers should spur students to act on that feedback and seek more feedback on their own.
For this to happen, the classroom must be an open and safe environment. There should be trust between you and your students. These can also be done in the home environment if you have set up a study space for them.
Here are a few more things you can do to build this environment:
1. Use affirmative language
Use affirmative language to confirm what students are and should be doing. Instead of telling them what they should not be doing, tell them what they should be doing. Try to mention their behaviour and affirm it by linking it to what that behaviour demonstrates.
“Good job on settling down, class, because now I know you’re ready to learn.”
“Thank you for paying attention to Annie while she was presenting. You all showed her respect.”
“Please throw your pencil shavings into the bin so that our classroom remains clean.”
2. Tell them why
Tell them why you are giving them feedback. Tell them why they should use your feedback for their own improvement. Make it clear that your intentions stem from care.
“I’m giving you feedback for your work because I care for your learning.”
“My feedback can help you realise what you still need to work on, so try to go through those topics again when you revise on your own.”
3. Be available
Be available to answer your students when they need your help. When your students try to correct their mistakes, they should feel like they can check with you if they are making progress.
“If you have questions about topics, come to me and I’ll try my best to answer them.”
“I am available for consultations on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. Book a slot with me if you need me to go through your work with you.”
There are still many ways you can make feedback a dialogue between you and your students. Remember that not all students are the same. So, give them individualised suggestions for how they can improve.
In addition to giving good feedback, consistent and continued practice on each subject is important to help them score well on the exams. Check out our wide range of assessment and guidebooks to help students in many areas of study, ranging from pre-school, primary, secondary and JC levels. Head to our CPD online shop to find out which titles are most suitable for your child today!