What: Feedback to and from students is integral to good teaching, it is a two-way process you are giving students feedback and you receiving feedback from them.
Why: The process of informal feedback lets you know how students are going, where they may be having issues; what’s working, what may need clarifying or changing. This then allows you to address them promptly.
How: Getting and giving feedback needs to be a thoughtful and conscious process. Here are some strategies:
1. Feedback questions
Asking students “Is everything clear or make sense?” will get you a few nods, perhaps a question but more like sea of blank faces. Better to ask focused questions such as:
- What questions do you have? (underlying assumption is there will be questions)
- What would you like me to clarify? (There may not be a question, I just didn’t understand …)
- What comments do you have about …? (Gives a chance to respond to the material)
2. Feedback Activities:
You can also do activities to find out how students are going – these can give you feedback and then address any gaps or confusion. Activities you can you include:
- What is the most important thing you have learned today?
- What is the muddiest point (the idea that is least clear to you)?
- Write a short 3 sentence summary of [key concept].
- Name the three most important concepts from today’s class.
- What information from last week have you used today?
- Think about this class, what’s working? How could it be improved? *
*Note: Avoid asking how you are doing as a teacher, you want feedback on the class and the content, not on you personally.
Closing the loop
To use these strategies effectively, structure them into your teaching.
You can capture student responses in shared doc; in the chat online; on the Canvas discussion board or on paper. Review the responses and then importantly, respond. e.g.
- I had a look at your responses, and I think we might need to review [concept].
- It was great to find out that you are understanding [concept], but I also hear that you need more time to get a grasp of [concept].
- Some suggest that the readings are …*
*Note: There may be good reasons not to change what you are doing – the trick with feedback to you is to listen, reflect and respond.
3. Feedback on work
Let students know that you are available to give informal feedback and that it does not affect their final assessment. This is usually verbal – you could encourage student to record on their phone so they can refer back to it or share with other group members.
Useful feedback is:
- Bookend – starting and concluding with positive comments.
- Positive and constructive – what are they doing right? What should they change/reconsider/improve?
- Clear and concise – stick to the key issues, don’t overwhelm with helpful advice.
- Tailored to the individual’s needs OR
- General (i.e., not using individual students as examples) but still addressing specific needs if delivered to a group.
- Actionable – identifying tasks that will help with the student’s progress and clarify assessment tasks.
- Encouraging students to seek and use feedback from their peers – allow time in class for peer review (where relevant)
For a range of strategies visit the RMIT Teaching & Assessments page