Significant Feedback

What is meaningful to you, may not be meaningful to students. What is meaningful to one student, may not be meaningful to another student.  

When we talk about providing significant feedback, what we are hoping to get at is feedback that is useful and supportive of a student’s continued learning. Feedback that supports continued learning is formative in nature, it is meant for improvement and provides guidance to help students improve future assignments or their performance in future courses. Generally, feedback that is meaningful should be focused, rather than just putting a grade on an assignment, or saying, “good work,” it is important to give students targeted suggestions or point out specific areas where they excelled.   

10 Tips for Making Feedback Meaningful in Your Course:

  1. Set the expectation that constructive feedback is an essential component of the course; feedback from peers, professor, and yourself through critical reflection.  
  2. Utilize ungraded drafts or parts building up to a final project. Consider utilizing peer review of a rough draft (see example set-up), before students submit a more polished draft for instructor feedback. This is not only supporting student learning but also will save you time.  
  3. Provide examples of good work, rubrics, or guidelines on what you are expecting. When you give feedback, link to the guidelines you presented. 
  4. Set expectations for students in terms of how long it will take to return their feedback. Providing thoughtful, individualized, formative feedback takes time. Let students know how long it will be before they receive feedback on their work. To balance your course, consider building in opportunities (like Classroom Assessment Techniques) in your class for students to get more immediate feedback. 
  5. If utilizing peer feedback, give students guidelines for giving and receiving feedback. Suggested guidelines are below: 
    1. When providing feedback: Be specific and constructive; Point out positives, as well as opportunities for improvement; Don’t waste everyone’s time and just say, “All good”; What you catch, helps your classmates turn in better work 
    2. When receiving feedback: Control defensiveness; Listen carefully; Ask clarifying questions; Keep it in perspective (e.g., ungraded, formative, low stakes) 
  6. De-emphasize grades  
  7. When giving back graded work, consider delaying the grade to encourage students to read your feedback 
  8. Give general class feedback during course time and discuss trends you are seeing across the class in submitted work 
  9. Remember your students as individuals when providing feedback. Some of your students may need to be handled differently than others to encourage learning. 
  10. Keep learning! Students change, and the way they best receive feedback may change. Take some advice from non-higher-education reflections on giving relevant feedback: Gen Z ‘Stans’ Feedback – Here’s How to Structure It Best and This is How Generation Z Employees Want Feedback. What did we learn from reading these articles? The importance of providing frequent, short, and high-touch feedback sessions. Give tangible examples and help students see how implementing feedback will benefit their future.