Thinking about it in this way, feedback should be focused on errors not mistakes. Given that feedback (when given effectively) is ranked in the top ten influences on learning (Hattie, 2010), it is worth thinking about. Giving effective feedback can be hard and is a skill that needs proactive attention and development.
While feedback has a powerful influence on collective intelligence and group effectiveness, Wiliam (2012) points out there are several ways in which individuals can respond to feedback:
- by changing behaviour (increasing or decreasing effort);
- by modifying a goal (reducing or increasing the level of challenge);
- by abandoning the goal;
- by rejecting the feedback (ignoring it).
Kusuma-Powell and Powell (2013) argue that as many of the responses to feedback are negative, it is incumbent on those involved in teaching and learning to become feedback literate. Evaluative comments in and of themselves often fail to add anything to someone's learning. Similarly simply giving feedback and expecting the recipient (especially a child) to act on it, results in a huge amount of wasted time for everyone, not least the teacher.
In order for feedback to effective and meaningful, the recipient(s) must be able to answer the following questions:
- What's the desired goal?
- Where am I/ are we now?
- How do I/ we close the gap?
And as feedback is more likely to be effective within positive climates and relationships of trust, these need to be proactively developed, alongside a climate in which errors and misunderstandings are welcomed, before the potential of feedback to improve performance/ learning can be realised.
Worth thinking about.
Kusuma-Powell, O. and Powell, W., 2013.The OIQ Factor: raising your school's organisational intelligence. London: John Catt.
Wiliam, D., 2012. Feedback: part of a system. Educational Leadership, 70:1, pp.31-34.