Ryan Bartelmay

Dean, General Education

Our Stance

Feedback is critical to learning. It helps a student become aware of strengths and weaknesses and keeps the student on target to accomplishing the course outcomes. Research shows that intentional, thoughtful feedback can significantly improve student performance.  

We believe that intentional, thoughtful feedback should be: 

  • TIMELY
  • SPECIFIC
  • CONNECTED TO COURSE OUTCOMES
  • STUDENT-CENTERED

Qualities

Timely

The most effective feedback occurs in the moment or immediately after the student completes an assigned task. Of course, it’s not always possible to provide instantaneous feedback, since many assignments, like a paper, are submitted in bulk on an assigned deadline. We understand it’s not realistic for an instructor to turnaround 20, 5-page papers within an hour or two. That being said, you should strive to provide feedback to students as quickly as possible, since research shows that immediate feedback increases student performance more often than delayed feedback. You may want to consider creating class activities that allow for you to observe student performance and provide immediate feedback to each student.   

 You should also note that Kendall College’s policy is that submitted, student work will be graded within 7 days of submission.  

Specific

General comments like, “I like this,” or “Nice work,” or “This is good,” don’t provide enough specificity for the student to comprehend what he or she is doing well so the student repeat their performance when completing future tasks, and statements such as “Awkward” or “Needs improvement” can leave a student confused as to what he or she is doing incorrectly. We believe that you should tell the student exactly what the student did well or exactly what the student needs to do to improve.  

Furthermore, we believe that feedback should be ongoing and it’s important to reference previous performances from the quarter--if possible--to illustrate improvement or lack of improvement.  

To contribute to the feedback’s specificity, we like to see instructors use learning resources (links to videos and articles or page numbers directing the student to the course textbook) to illustrate points about the student’s strengths and weaknesses.  

We also want to see instructors use criteria to standardize the feedback to students. We believe criterion-referencing tools like rubrics can elevate specificity and delineate the feedback in a way that the student can better understand it.   

 See also: rubric, assessment tool 

Connected to course outcomes 

We believe that feedback should help the student advance toward the accomplishment of the course outcomes. If the class activities and assignments are aligned and structured so that they lead the student to the accomplishment of the course’s goals, then feedback to the student about their performance during the class activities and assignments are help the student understand what they’re doing well and what they need to improve in order to achieve the course outcomes.  

Furthermore, we believe it’s good practice to use the vocabulary used in the course outcomes when providing feedback to students. This alignment will help make the connection between the feedback and the course outcomes clear to the student. 

Student-centered  

We believe feedback should be individualized to the specific student and their level. So, if the student isn’t ready for technical language, then you should tailor the feedback’s language so that the student can understand the message.  

 There is a lot of debate about the amount of corrective feedback a student should receive about their performance on a specific task. You’ve probably heard or maybe even received a “bleeding paper”--a class paper that’s covered in red ink because the instructor has commented on every single mistake or failing. Too much corrective feedback can intimidate or frustrate the student, causing the student to become de-motivated. We think it’s best to use the course outcomes to guide the corrective feedback and to understand that too much corrective feedback can be counter-productive to helping the student be successful. Even if the student has numerous failings, it may be more impactful to provide feedback for few rather than all. Each student is different, and you’ll need to determine the amount of corrective feedback each student will be able to receive and use. 

 Lastly, and maybe most importantly, we believe that the feedback should be respectful. As an instructor, you are an expert in the discipline or subject you’re teaching, and as an expert, it’s sometimes difficult to remember what it was like to be a beginner. When providing feedback we believe it’s best to try to put yourself in the students shoes and treat the student in the way that you’d want to be treated.  

Learning Resources

Ask, Tell, Ask feedback sandwich method to provide feedback

How To Give Feedback the Right Way

 

Infographic