The ability to give effective feedback is an impressive skill. It can be quite difficult to know when to reward effort, when to push a little harder, when tough love is needed, and what will best motivate someone to both persevere and improve.
In a recent article, the New York Times reviewed some of the current research on providing feedback to others, including a study published in The Journal of Consumer Research. The study found that novices prefer positive feedback because it helps them to build their confidence, while experts actually seek negative feedback because their focus is on improving or getting it right. This may be something that you already apply in your classes. Perhaps you have found that you can challenge your upper class students, while your freshmen may require a lot more positive reinforcement. You can read the full research study here. (If you are reading this from off campus, you may need to log in with your mylasalle portal credentials to access the study from the Connelly library databases.)
The article also briefly addresses how negative feedback should be given. It has to be precise, given in time for the person to use that information, and in a neutral way that will not be perceived as judgmental.
What methods do you use to give feedback?
The type and quality of the feedback you give is important, but it can also be helpful to consider the methods you use to give feedback to students.
According to a recent survey by Turnitin, students prefer to receive feedback electronically because it is more accessible and easier to read. For more information about the Turnitin survey, check out this infographic of the key findings or request a copy of the white paper.
There are many tools and techniques that you can use to give digital feedback. Below are just a few ideas along with links to previous posts on the 1900 blog that can provide a little more information:
- Blackboard’s recently updated online assignment submission tool now allows you to make electronic comments and annotations directly to students’ work.
- Blackboard’s rubric tool makes it easy to assess students’ work using rubrics and checklists. Or, you can create your rubrics and checklists using Word or Excel.
- The tracked changes feature in Word and the commenting tools in Google Docs and SkyDrive are all great for giving students comments on their drafts or outlines in advance of major assignments. Because these comments are in context, they can help students to begin immediately applying the suggestions. If you are worried about having enough time to give all of your students timely feedback, you can think about using peer review instead.
- Skype or Collaborate can be used to schedule online meetings with your students to review their work. These tools allow you to bring up documents on your screen, so that both you and the student are literally on the same page.
- You can record audio or video of your feedback to add tone and intention to your message or as a way to support students that can’t make it to office hours.
- Blackboard gives you the option to add detailed feedback for each question when you are creating self-assessments, quizzes, and tests. This feedback can help students to understand their grade and can clarify their misconceptions. When self-assessments are being used as teaching tools, you can include references to the textbook or links to online resources so that students have a way to immediately address their learning needs in preparation for graded assignments.
As always, you can feel free to reach out to any member of the La Salle ID team to discuss tools and techniques for giving feedback, or anything else that you would like to try in your classes!