09 May 2018
Types of feedback
Feedback is an essential part of communication. In its absence, communication can’t possibly be effective. It is the only way to appraise whether the message has been decoded correctly or not. Feedback in education helps both students and teachers strengthen the learning process and can help students improve the chances of their success. There are various types of feedback in current use. Below you will find a summary of some of the most popular types of feedback.
Written or verbal
Firstly, whichever types of feedback you use, it will be either written or verbal. Verbal communication involves exchanging of ideas through the word of mouth including ‘face-to-face’, telephone or Skype in educational institutions. Globally, verbal feedback and communication is not generally considered to be formal unless it is recorded for later review. Verbal feedback usually takes place during class activities or after the marks for formal assessments have been allocated.
On the other hand, non-verbal types of feedback include body language and written communication. Body language is very important and is mostly in play during verbal communication. In fact, it is generally accepted that over 50% of the message or impact of our message is conveyed through body language. The correct body language can make the difference between intimidating a student or motivating and supporting them with your feedback. Written communication includes e-mails; articles and information in books, magazines and journals; the Internet or other media. Also, written feedback is usually considered a formal way of interaction. Social media and chat apps are exception where the written communications are informal and casual. In educational systems, formal written feedback is given through progress reports of teachers and students.
Feedback sandwich (praise, criticism, praise)
Feedback should always be introduced by praise in order to sound polite to the receiver. Start off with positive comments and praise, add constructive criticism in the middle so that the outcomes can be measurably improved. Then conclude with some more positive comments to raise the motivational level and encourage the student(s) to work towards achieving the required criteria. Teachers themselves as well as students should welcome criticism so that they can improve progressively throughout their careers.
‘Medal and Mission’
This is one of the most well-known types of feedback. ‘Medals’ in feedback refer to giving positive statements to the students so that they work with intrinsic motivation. These statements could include, for example, praise about the good sentence structure, proper use of punctuation and a good use of factual data for a written assignment. This would keep the student encouraged to keep up the good work. However, the ‘Mission’ includes statements that would help him/her correct or improve the weaker areas of the work done by the student. These statements could include the idea of improvement in sentence structure and heavier use of factual data in the same assignment.
SMART Goals driven by Assessment Criteria
The goals given during any of these types of feedback should always be specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time bound (SMART). The motive behind any type of feedback should be to have a clear goal that has been set by the instructor. It helps not only the teacher but also the student to have a clear idea of what has to be achieved. It is then easier for the student to know exactly what has to be done by them and for the teacher to measure the performance of the students according to the set criteria.
Regardless of which types of feedback you use, it should never be judgemental. The teacher should try not to give statements pertaining to concepts such as good or bad and right or wrong and should avoid using words such as terrible, blame, fault, incorrect and mistake. Moreover, personal attacks and negative connotations should be completely avoided. During all activities as a teacher you should remain within your professional boundaries and legal guidelines as provided in the Equality Act 2000.
1:1 or Group
I find 1:1 feedback works more effectively as compared to the written types of feedback. Verbal feedback involves tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. Moreover, it is interactive in nature which can make the students question for any judgement made by the teacher. Also, it is easy for the teacher to soften their approach if they see that the students’ facial expressions becoming intense. This type of feedback can occur 1:1 or as a group. While giving feedback to a group or class together may be beneficial to cover general points, I find that generally, 1:1 customised feedback has much more impact. There is less room for misunderstandings and you can really focus not the motivational factors and learner preferences of the individual in question.
Self and Peer assessment
Peer assessment refers to individuals assessing each other according to the relevant assessment criteria and learning outcomes. It helps the students to take responsibility for their learning, making it much more andragogical. It also helps them get a better grip on the benchmarks set by instructors. Moreover, it brushes up the analytical skills of the students. Once the students completely understand the assessment criteria, there would be less burden on the teachers to remain centre of the feedback exercise. Additionally, when the peers are assessing each other, it is easier for them to understand what the other person is saying as the level of knowledge and interests of both the students would be the same. But in peer assessment, students might feel reluctant to mark each other due to limited knowledge about the subject.
However, self-assessment refers to evaluating one’s own self according to the given criteria. This also helps the students to polish their own judgemental skills by assessing themselves and would help them come to better conclusions about their problems.