In recent years, research has confirmed what most teachers already knew: providing students with meaningful feedback can greatly enhance learning and improve student achievement. Professor James Pennebaker from the University of Texas at Austin has been researching the benefits of frequent testing and the feedback it leads to. He explains that in the history of the study of learning, the role of feedback has always been central.
When people are trying to learn new skills, they must get some information that tells them whether or not they are doing the right thing. Learning in the classroom is no exception. Both the mastery of content and, more importantly, the mastery of how to think require trial-and-error learning.
1. BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
In a review of the available research titled “The Power of Feedback,” University of Auckland professors Helen Timperley and John Hattie highlight the importance of supplying learners with specific information about what they are doing right or wrong.
2. THE SOONER THE BETTER
Numerous studies indicate that feedback is most effective when it is given immediately, rather than a few days, weeks, or months down the line.
3. ADDRESS THE LEARNER’S ADVANCEMENT TOWARD A GOAL
Timperley and Hattie note that effective feedback is most often oriented around a specific achievement that students are (or should be) working toward. When giving feedback, it should be clear to students how the information they are receiving will help them progress toward their final goal.
4. PRESENT FEEDBACK CAREFULLY
The way feedback is presented can have an impact on how it is received, which means that sometimes even the most well-meaning feedback can come across the wrong way and reduce a learner’s motivation.
5. INVOLVE LEARNERS IN THE PROCESS
The importance of involving learners in the process of collecting and analyzing performance-based data cannot be understated. Pennebaker says:
Students must be given access to information about their performance . . . At the broadest level, students need to know if they actually have mastered the material or not. Giving them information about the ways they are studying, reading, searching for information, or answering questions can be invaluable.
A feedback log can be created in many ways and aligned to skills, concepts, or standards. Students can then use this as a means to track their progress and growth over time as more feedback is provided over the course of the year. If students genuinely own their learning, then they must be put in a position to reflect and then act on the feedback they are given. The use of a log can also strengthen partnerships with parents. By making them aware of the log, parents have an opportunity to be more involved in their child’s learning each day.
Implementing feedback logs as a part of consistent professional practice saves precious time, can be seamlessly aligned with research-based strategies, will help students monitor their understanding of essential learnings, and can be used to provide more targeted support to those students who don’t show reasonable growth over time. Best of all they can serve as an empowerment tool to help kids exert more ownership over their learning. Source: Eric Sheninger