Getting feedback right

This is not new, but it is something we  seem slow to understand, so I’m going to say it again. Just giving feedback is not the same as students acting on or learning from that feedback. And perhaps the point that we find the most difficult to understand: just giving more feedback or feedback that we think is better will not necessarily help.

We are also a bit to ready to blame our students – if they can’t be bothered even to collect their marked work, then it’s their fault isn’t it? Maybe not. Perhaps they think (or know) that it won’t be useful. When students read the feedback but don’t act on it, perhaps they don’t understand it or perhaps they can’t see its relevance to future assignments.

So we need to find out what is going on. We need to talk to our students and monitor their behaviour – and act on what we discover – rather than assuming that we know best. Then we need to work with our students to help them to learn from assessment and feedback and to help us to do better in the future.

This rant (which is really a plea for honest evaluation, and acting on the findings of this) is directed at myself as much as anyone else. We (the teachers) need to collect real feedback as much as anyone else ; this will include monitoring what our students do as well as what they say. Then we need to learn from it .

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