boy-1126140Feedback is one of the most powerful tools at a teacher’s disposal. It is way in which students are made conscious of their mistakes and how to fix them. Teachers and students communicate through feedback, whether it’s on a paper, test, or writing assignment. A teacher’s feedback is meant to improve a student’s skillset, and assure close interaction in their general education. However feedback is only helpful if students use it to their advantage. Some studies show that students often show less improvement when teachers provide feedback, than when they don’t. In order to prevent this from happening, teachers must always keep the purpose of the practice in mind.

The general definition of feedback involves providing individuals with information about their performance. If a teacher hopes to make their own feedback helpful, they must delve much deeper. According to education expert Dylan Williams, helpful feedback constitutes providing information on current performance, as well as tips on improving future performance. Feedback is meant to do more than just improve work, it should be designed to help students learn. This point is most obvious with sports coaches and visual arts teachers, where visual feedback is easily communicated. Teachers often forget about this very vital point, especially when grading papers or tests. Although red-inked corrections can help students better understand their mistakes, they are not used constructively if they are not improvement-focused.

The issue at hand is providing feedback that students can really use. However, the task is increasingly difficult when students are asked to perform tasks never before undertaken. In order to ease the difficulties, teachers choose to undertake the bulk of the intellectual work. Conventional corrections do not allow students to figure out new strategies when correcting their own work. Instead, professors provide corrections that are essentially done for them. Assessing students should not focus on the amount of corrections their work needs, but on their learning needs instead. “When we realize that most of the time the focus on feedback should be changing the student rather than changing the work, we can give much more purposeful feedback.”

Feedback must focus on assessing, and reassessing students’ work. Gathering information about their needs, and the proper way of addressing those needs is priority number one. In the case of the social sciences, give students creative tasks that allow for flexible writing. Creative freedom allow students to write comfortably, providing you with their best work. This would allow you to properly evaluate the student’s writing capabilities, and their possible needs.

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