Feedback That Actually Feeds Back

Giving feedback is one of the easiest and hardest things teachers have to do.

It’s easy to give feedback to pupils and colleagues but it’s hard to do it well so that it actually means something.

We all know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of some feedback from someone who hasn’t thought it through. It can be deflating.

But then again, when feedback is given with feeling it can kick-start all manner of improvements and “I’ll show you!” commitments.

In Enhancing Learning Through Self-Assessment, David Boud suggests a number of guidelines that we can use when giving feedback and use as a check they we are being thorough. They relate to peer-to-peer feedback but they can be used in different ways such as teacher to pupil or teacher to teacher.

Boud says that feedback should:

  • Be realistic
  • Be specific
  • Be sensitive to the goals of the person
  • Be timely
  • Be descriptive
  • Be consciously non-judgemental
  • Be diligent
  • Be direct
  • Be positive
  • Be aware

Hand on heart, could you say that you follow these ten ‘shoulds’?

When feedback helps us understand how successful we have been then that’s good.

When feedback tells us what we have to do next to improve then that’s great.

Feedback should be a motivator and both a support and challenge.

Feedback needs to do just that, not cover you in vomit.

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