Feedforward: When Feedback Doesn’t Produce Results

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There is very limited support for the idea that students make changes to their work in line with the feed back they’ve received, according to a 2007 study (Crisp). Does this problem stem from the students, teachers or both? Students could simply be lazy and unmotivated, or perhaps they just don’t have the skill set necessary to conduct self-assessment and to make the proper adjustments. Then again, maybe the students aren’t receiving the proper feedback from teachers.

Some possible solutions:

  • Teachers Feedforward: when giving feedback, instead of writing about why they earned an A or a C- on the paper, give 3 or 4 comments that focus on growth and give specific advice on how to improve this and the next assignment.
  • Student Action Plan: based on feedback received on the assignment and their personal reaction to their work, students develop an action plan that details how to improve the next assignment and is turned in for a certain amount of credit. “For my next assignment, I will improve these three things…”
  • Second Try System: students receive a certain amount of credit for the first draft, then according to feedback, revise it and turn it in again for the remaining percent of their grade.
  • Portfolio System: a system of collecting work throughout the semester, which allows both the student and teacher to view progress. The teacher can also have the students answer a questionnaire which asks them to ID the strengths and weaknesses of the assignment, the challenges and how they were overcome and how they addressed the weaknesses of their previous assignment.
  • Meeting System: for teachers tired of putting in hours of work on feedback, only to see no improvement in the future assignments. This system involves the student and teacher making personal appointments during office hours and throughout the semester to discuss strengths, weaknesses and how to move forward.

Whatever it is you choose, if it’s improvement you want, then ensure that your grading system and comments are ones that focus, not just on reward and punishment, but on growth and potential.

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