Student Feedback 101: Constructive Strategies & Examples for Teachers

Teachers play a powerful role in a child’s life. Besides parents, teachers have the grand responsibility of inspiring, motivating, teaching, and sharing valuable lessons and knowledge with young learners.

In the classroom setting, teachers set the tone for learning by creating a warm and inviting environment, where they can mentor, nurture, and take account of the needs and well-being of their students.

Come to think about it, teachers have an extremely challenging job. From grading papers to striving to meet the vast criteria of a “written in stone” curriculum, teachers wear several hats. Aside from those demands, educators bear the weight of being responsible for the overall academic achievement of students. With that comes the task of feedback.

What does feedback do, you may ask. Student feedback is one of the most vital aspects of a student’s academic career, as it ensures they’re on the right trajectory to succeed. It’s a gauge which paints a picture for students, offering insight about their student work portfolio, and where they are, and where they could be. Teacher student feedback, as powerful as it is, can influence students’ overall performance, self-perception, motivation to learn, and academic engagement.

Constructive feedback in education is nothing short of essential to the learning experience, as well as the teacher-student and teacher-parent relationship. It’s not only indicative of how much the educator cares about the learning taking place, it also shows they have a stake in their students’ outcome. Furthermore, constructive feedback gives parents a clear understanding of the educator’s overall goals for a particular subject or unit, and the goals set for their individual child. Parents can then target their attention where necessary and help their child leverage the feedback for success.

While student feedback is meant to be a good thing – a crucial component of helping students improve current skills, develop new ones, and acknowledge progress, it can oftentimes be viewed as judgement or criticism. Moreover, feedback is sometimes offered in a soley negative and corrective way, which can easily convey the wrong message, making it counterproductive and detrimental to learning. If not delivered correctly, feedback can leave students feeling uninspired, angry, and worthless, along with experiencing a slump in classroom performance.

That said, constructive feedback to students must be purposeful to the individual student’s needs and learning journey. It must be clear and direct, as well as encouraging and productive.

There are two main forms of feedback to students, summative and formative. Summative feedback focuses on learning after the fact. It’s an evaluation of learning at the end of a learning cycle. For instance, summative feedback examples for students would include grades at the end of a semester, a unit, or a school year.

On the other hand, formative feedback is designed to guide the learning process. The benefit of this type of feedback is the attention paid to areas of weakness (and strengths), and the encouragement for future improvement. In essence, the feedback is a tool to be used on the student’s next learning opportunity.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll look at formative student feedback. Dealing with multiple students on a daily basis, educators have to be consistent and deliberate in their feedback, as it’s easy to say “good work” and move on to the next student. To avoid such lax feedback let’s examine some techniques regarding how to give constructive feedback to learners.

Be positive. Before offering feedback, find something to praise. Build the student’s confidence as a learner by complimenting them on what they are doing well, then focus on improvement areas.
Be specific. Avoid phrases like “Not quite there yet” and “You’re doing great” – neither communicates what needs to be improved. Instead, discuss the exact weakness and tactics to change the outcome.

Be immediate. This is one of the most critical examples of student feedback for teachers. The ideal time to provide feedback is during the learning process, which can deepen a student’s understanding, while prohibiting the reinforcement of incorrect ideas.

Now for a few student feedback strategies.

Use technology. ClassDojo is a unique app that’s perfect for communicating with students (and parents), especially when offering feedback. ClassDojo allows educators the ability to do a variety of things on one platform like tracking student progress, sharing feedback, assigning writing prompts, and creating a dialogue between students and parents.

Schedule 1-on-1 conferences. Conferences are an effective way to personalize feedback, instead of relying on written comments.

Demonstrate. Along with giving verbal feedback, modeling or showing examples of what you’re looking for has proven to be a helpful tactic.

We’ve only touched on a few examples of student feedback, but the main takeaway is to remember that feedback must be useful, positive, and suited to the individual student’s learning journey.

What other positive feedback examples for students would you add? What has worked for your students?