Developing Students’ Ability to Give and Take Effective Feedback

Giving feedback is a life skill or should be considered to be one. In the Learning Literacies, ShareIt is one of the six. If we are suggesting that kids share their work, we should also introduce the idea of others finding and using the work. “On the shoulders of giants” may be an overstatement, but if the work is out there, someone may have ideas to challenge the work or improve it. This thoughtful, productive review and collaborative process can be taught and a classroom setting is the idea environment to begin.

As the author points out, this can be a time consuming process. Middle school is a good place to start. Reflection and critique of the work of others is a good complement to personal reflection and independent assessment of their own work. The “Six Hats” distinctions or something similar is a nice way to visualize the different types of review, what to look for and how to present the feedback. A simplified yellow / black hat or warm / cool categorization seems a adequate framework.

Some good ideas for what to do with the feedback. Start with low-stakes feedback to learn the process and vocabulary. Feedback must be specific with direct evidence from the work – can’t “copy and paste” suggestion to any work. Pick three things from the feedback that will be incorporated into the next draft. This works best when there will be another iteration to see how the suggestions have actually been implemented and the work improved. Dealing with criticism is another life skill. Being defensive is a typical reaction to criticism, especially if the creator was already aware of the shortcoming and hadn’t / couldn’t address it. Getting over the hurt or disappointment and moving on to an improvement can be huge learning experience.

This might be a nice place to use online discussions. Formulate the feedback with time to edit and reflect. The posted feedback is impersonal, discussing the work without attitude. Distribute feedback with some limit like only two feedback replies until everyone has two. Encourage additional feedback. Some kids are very observant and are really good at making suggestions even if they aren’t as technically skilled as creators.

How Students Critiquing One Another’s Work Raises The Quality Bar

Be kind. Be specific. Be helpful. Give and take process. Two ideas – How can this work be better? and I get some ideas to use to make my work better. For lower grades, the teacher may be guiding the process, but the kids are really into it and are acquiring skills to do this on their own, both to critique the work of peers, and also their own to improve the quality of their own work.



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