Monday, October 12, 2015

Teaching Large Classes: Getting Students to Utilize Feedback

Grading and providing feedback is one of the most time consuming things that instructors must do.  Rubrics, written comments, point systems, whatever your grading method may be, it’s no question that you devote a large amount of time using it to provide constructive feedback to your students.  But what happens when those comments, suggestions, and point values are never read?  When students simply skip over your handwritten responses to glance at the letter grade and stuff the assignment away?  How do we get students to not just read the feedback that is provided to them, but to also take it constructively to use on future work?
Surprisingly, the first step to curing this problem is reconsidering the ways in which you provide the feedback itself.  According to Maryellen Weimer in her article “Getting Students to Act on our Feedback,” the feedback we so often provide to students tends to be more about justifying the grade we’ve awarded rather than highlighting what a student needs to do to improve.  Instead, include “three or four specific suggestions that target what the student should work on to improve the next assignment.”

I know what you’re saying, “But that still won’t help if the students aren’t actually reading the feedback anyway!”  Weimer provides a solution to that as well.  She suggests providing students with a few minutes in class to look over and read through their feedback, and then asking them to write an action plan on how they will use that feedback to improve their work in the future.  This action plan doesn’t have to be long, just a few statements will do.  You could even have students start with the same opening line, “Based on the teacher’s feedback and my own assessment of this work, here are the three things I plan to improve in the next assignment.” 

If you don’t particularly like the paragraph response as an option, try one of these instead:

  • Write in revisions – this is a particularly helpful method with papers and written work.  Have students turn in their work a second time, but making note of the revisions they made according to the comments and suggestions that you had provided on their first-round paper.
  • Collaborative revisions – have students bring in their work to review with someone near them.  Students should focus on the feedback you provided and then decide on ways that each of them could utilize that feedback to revise their work.
These assignments encourage students to take the constructive criticism you’ve provided and use it to become better writers, thinkers, and studiers in the future.

Tip Provided By: Jessica Moser

No comments:

Post a Comment