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September 2012 | Volume 70 | Number 1
Feedback for Learning
"Good job!" "I think you need a work a little harder on that." A smiley face. A big red X. These are all examples of feedback teachers give.
Perhaps you've given such feedback yourself. But have you ever wondered what students are learning from such feedback? This issue of Educational
Leadership looks at the qualities of effective—and ineffective—feedback and considers how teachers can improve the feedback they give so that students
In his article, "Seven Keys to Effective Feedback" (p. 11), Grant Wiggins writes that feedback is not a value judgment, nor is it advice. Rather, feedback is
information about the progress a person is making toward a goal. It might include direct observations of the direct results of one's actions, as when a tennis player observes
whether she has kept the ball on the court. Or it may include observations from an outsider, as when a reader tells a writer how an essay made him feel.
Read the following statements. Which ones fit Wiggins's definition of feedback?
Wiggins says that effective feedback is goal-referenced, tangible and transparent, actionable, user-friendly, timely, ongoing, and consistent.
Feedback may be one of the most powerful influences on student learning, but not all feedback is created equal. In some cases, feedback can actually make things worse.
Every teacher knows that feedback takes time, but can it also save time? Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, in "Making Time for Feedback" (p. 42), show how
teachers can give feedback more efficiently and avoid wasting instructional time on material most students already know.
Feedback is not just about students learning from the teacher. Teachers also need feedback from students. By listening to a student, Cris Tovani ("Feedback Is a
Two-Way Street," p. 48) learned that the student's attendance problems had nothing to do with student tardiness and everything to do with a scheduling glitch that
put him in two classes at the same time. Carol Ann Tomlinson ("What Heather Taught Me," p. 88) learned after the fact that one of her most gifted students did not
feel Tomlinson helped her become a better writer. And when principal Gregory Kaster ("Learning from the True Customers," p. 68) sought feedback from his
students, he found out that the bathroom misbehavior was a bigger concern than bullying.
Copyright © 2012 by ASCD
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