Providing Feedback to Students

One of the difficulties many instructors face is how to provide proper feedback to their students. While this will differ based on type of assignment, it is important for students to know why and how they received a grade.

I have found that many students are eager to read comments and suggestions from their instructors and have a vested interest in using feedback to improve their scores. Graduate students especially want to know the rationale behind their grades even if only one point is deducted.

What I, and many others have struggled with is deciding upon a method to use for providing feedback in the best way possible. We want to address concerns and suggest revisions in a manner that does not criticize the student or make them feel inadequate. Current student populations are very sensitive to critique and must be handled with thoughtfulness and care.

One tried and true method for providing feedback is to give examples in cases where correction is needed. For example, instead of saying “this is incorrect”, an instructor might suggest an alternative with “have you thought about…? or “consider using these instead.” This can help students consider other options to use in their work and not spend time focusing on what they have not done well.

During a recent class, a student discussed another method for providing feedback that she uses with children at a childcare center called the sandwich method. With this you enclose the suggestions or critique in between two positive statements. In using this method, an instructor might say, “Your paper is clear and concise. Consider adding more depth to support your argument. It will fit nicely with your excellent writing style and use of tone.”

Expanding on the sandwich idea, the article below suggests a more specific and effective method for providing feedback to students. Click here to read about “The Almond Joy of Providing Feedback to Students.”

Photo credit: Editing a paper by Nic McPhee CC BY SA 2.0



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