While importing some video I have to edit from our recent forum/panel on social media, I had the time to finally crack-open a book on inquiry-based learning. Halbert and Kaser’s book looks excellent–and I couldn’t wait to share what I discovered on page 22 about providing students effective feedback.

They quote from the work of John Hattie, who in his 2009 book Visible Learning, says:

When teachers seek, or at least are open to feedback from students as to what students know, what they understand, where they make errors, when they have misconceptions, when they are not engaged–then teaching and learning can be synchronized and powerful. Feedback to teachers helps make learning visible.

Some recommendations and food for thought:

  1. Don’t provide extensive feedback, then assign a grade;
  2. Feedback shouldn’t cause an emotional reaction; it should result in more thinking;
  3. When feedback works it is more work for the recipient than for the donor;
  4. The timing is important; shouldn’t be too early or too late;
  5. Students (and teachers!) need a safe environment for learning where they can make and learn from errors;
  6. Effective feedback needs to direct attention more to what’s next rather than how a student did on a single piece of work.

Moreover–feedback does not have to be extensive. It can be formal, like comments on a written paper, but it can also be a quick, supportive spoken sentence to a student on the way out the door. Our job is first provide feedback and then to focus on how we can make feedback valuable to students.