Feedback has been shown to be a key element in student growth models. But how do we implement it so that this actually happens?
We hear it from the very beginning of our lives.... “No one is perfect.” When you really think about it, this phrase could elicit a level motivation or an impression of defeat. How we process this information will ultimately affect our outlook on challenges in the future. If you see these chances as an opportunity, you are bound to push through adversity to achieve wonderful results. Where as, if you see this as an excuse, it will be a perpetual roadblock for success. The first thing we need to consider is adopting a growth mindset. Our abilities are not predetermined, our future is not set in stone. We have the power to make a difference and a little setback is just an opportunity to learn. Whether our students have this approach to challenges or not, we must unlock their willingness to be resilient and feedback is the key to empowering them to push forward. Read on to see how I use feedback in my classroom to help students leap over the hurdle of a fixed mindset and pursue challenging endeavors with fearlessness.
When I recall my academic experience, grades on assignments were assumed to be adequate feedback for students. They were suppose to represent what one did well and what one needs to improve upon. The problem is, it was left to the student to figure out what went wrong AND how to fix it. Assuming that the student wanted to make improvements, figuring out what went wrong, when it is clear the student didn’t know what to do, seems like a recipe for even more confusion. Feedback in this environment may have beent timely (sometimes not), but was far from specific. And when we consider the grading of English papers, the feedback may have been specific, but it was usually long after submission and did not allow for corrections. As a student, it was expected of me to remember the mistakes I made (but never corrected) on previous assignments and not make them again.
We all have experience the scenario’s above. Even when we found out we made a mistake, it was rare that we didn’t make them again as we didn’t have the chance to fix and resubmit. In addition, we all know that in our professions a “one and done” submission is much more rare than it was in school. Often there are drafts and revisions that eventually form a final product. The question that we must now consider is... why are our classrooms different if they don’t prepare students for a real world scenario?
A Second Chance....
This is the element that is most often absent in classrooms. Traditionally, students complete work, receive a grade, and then see their feedback. In this model students never have the chance to iterate as their grade is already determined. With the goal of educating students, it is imperative that we afford them the chance to fix their mistakes with the ultimate goal of SELF-EVALUATION before submission. Thus is its imperative to flip the sequence of work and feeedback to submit work, receive feedback, resubmit and then evaluate for a grade. In an ideal situation, the feedback and resubmission process could even occur a few times to get down to even the most minute mistakes. At the core, the opportunity and accountability of fixing mistakes instills in students it is our goal to minimize errors, but in the event them happen, also have the opportunity to fix them.
Timely and Specific...
Feedback is fickle as if it is not timely and specific, the goal of making forward progress is thwarted by other endeavors. The longer the time between submission and return with feedback, the less focused a student is on that particular task. However, the process for providing quality feedback can be at odds with the need for it to be timely. Usually students receive EITHER timely OR quality feedback on an assignment. Currently, teachers need to determine which of those is more valuable. The fact that we have to choose, or are making this decision to choose, ultimately has a negative effect on student performance. It should be our goal to provide quality feedback to students while the feedback still matters to them.
Mr. Julian’s Classroom...
Ultimately we need to create a structure that seeks to address both aspects, timely and effective. As discussed above, the current structure does not facilitate both together, but each separately. This means that when you think about the assignment or project, you should also be thinking about how you will structure your feedback. This should make us consider the types of feedback that are available, summarize and formative.
The fundamental breakdown in a successful strategy is the opportunity for students to respond to feedback. if we were to consider which of these types of feedback facilitate student response, it is easy to see that formative feedback hits that right on the head.
Summartive feedback is something that in a traditional grading model is required for teachers. However, instead of letting it be the last part of the project, we can make it a formal review process. This requires the option for review, revision, and resubmission, which is a logistically difficult structured to implement into the classroom. In essence, the formal aspect of submission becomes first, formative assessment, and after resubmission, the final assessment.
Things that you need to consider...
Time and structure are the most important elements to consider when deciding on the feedback model. For more linear learning, autograding Google Forms meet the need much better than student meetings. Non-linear learning like projects, to me, require face to face discussions and feedback. The 1-point rubric has allowed me to review robust projects and provide feedback to students in a timely manner. Students also respond to the rubric as it is clear what has been done successfully and what needs work.
Above all we need to think about how we support students over how we evaluate them. Projects and initiatives in our professions require us to reflect and modify as new information comes along. Rarely do we produce a product with only one attempt. By thinking about feedback procedures we can support students in their acquisition of skills that directly extrapolate into successsful product construction.