Providing feedback to students is one of the most effective strategies for improving their learning and development. While many instructors understand that feedback is important, providing detailed feedback can be challenging. Many instructors may not understand how to provide detailed feedback, and others may simply think they do not have enough time to provide students with detailed feedback. In this article, we will dive into the importance of feedback for students and how changes in feedback can have a huge impact on comprehension and retention of information.
Before we dive into why detailed feedback is important for students, we need to discuss a couple of critical components of feedback delivery.
1) Ensure feedback is positive to build confidence and motivation
Framing feedback in a positive light for students is a must, especially when providing feedback in person. Research suggests that students who perceive feedback positively tend to gain confidence to complete similar tasks, after their efforts have been successful (Agricola, Prins, & luijsmans, 2020).
In remote classes, some instructors use voice and video feedback clips to help humanize feedback as much as possible while working in an online setting. Feedback that is provided in a positive manner and also includes clear next steps does a much better job of helping students realize their mistakes as opposed to merely pointing out their faults.
2) Feedback needs to be specific and personalized
Specific feedback that is accompanied by real examples will be most useful for student learning. For example, instead of providing feedback to students such as “you need to revisit this topic”, leaving specific comments such as “in Question 4 you used the incorrect formula (see correct formula in the pdf I attached), use Chapter 3 as a starting resource and feel free to stop by my office if you would like more help.” is much more specific. This provides the student with actionable steps they can take in order to improve. It also gives them insight into exactly where and why they struggled, so that the problem can immediately be addressed. Most students require structure and guidance. In fact, the article ”Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work” suggests that when instructors provide minimal guidance it is significantly less effective and efficient than guidance specifically designed to support the cognitive processing necessary for learning (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006).
Why is detailed feedback so important for student development?
1) Detailed feedback gives more context than letter grades can provide alone
Most schools, whether that be K-12 or higher education, have a grading system or process. In higher education, especially in larger classes, feedback is less common and students may likely only receive letter grades on their assessments. The standard grading system in most countries ranges from A-F based on a score from 0-100. According to Gerald E. Knesek, EdD, MBA, senior lecturer in the School of Management at the University of Michigan–Flint,”students have become more focused on the rewards and punishments, namely grades (an extrinsic motivator), and less on the desired behavior, learning (an intrinsic motivator).” It’s not that letter grades are not important, but the ability to provide additional feedback alongside a letter grade, especially for the students who are struggling, can dramatically help students learn throughout the course. While instructors cannot provide detailed feedback on every test, assignment, or quiz within a course, they should acknowledge the benefits that detailed feedback can have on student learning, which Gerald E. Knesek agrees that learning is the “true purpose of education.”
2) Feedback can create a positive student-teacher relationship
Receiving developmental feedback is not always easy to hear, especially when a student is struggling to grasp a new concept, but it does showcase that their teacher is committed to helping them learn. If instructors are taking the time to provide detailed feedback for their students it can really showcase the level of commitment that the instructor has to the student.
Dr. Christi Bergin, Associate Dean for Research & Innovation at the University of Missouri College claimed that, “when students have a positive relationship with their teacher, they not only develop better social-emotional skills but also learn more academic content – they have higher test scores, better grades, and are less likely to be retained in grade or referred for special education.”
Feedback is a two-way street. Many instructors administer student surveys to collect feedback on teaching style, course content, and areas where students believe the course could improve. This is an opportunity for students to have their own voice and have their feedback heard. In a meta-analysis of over 800 studies, Hattie (2009) claimed “the most important feature was the creation of situations in classrooms for the teachers to receive more feedback about their teaching—and then the ripple effect back to the student was high”. By giving students opportunities to provide upward feedback, they will likely appreciate instructor feedback more.
3) Students can use detailed feedback during exam time as a way to prepare
It is no secret that exams are a stressful time for students and instructors. Reviewing the feedback provided throughout the course is a valuable study tool that many students miss out on. If students are encouraged to revisit their assessments and homework throughout the course,they can review the questions they have struggled with, refer to the feedback and resources to help them improve in those problem areas, and improve their grades during finals.
How can Crowdmark help instructors leave detailed feedback for students?
As we have discussed, providing feedback can be challenging, but students need detailed feedback to learn. Using a grading software like Crowdmark can dramatically improve efficiency and quality of feedback provided by instructors.
Crowdmark allows instructors to upload a detailed rubric into the comment library to utilize when grading student work. This encourages instructors to leave detailed feedback directly on student assessments at a much faster rate. Instructors can leave text comments, links to resources, attach pdfs, insert images and GIFs, apply point values, and more so that students have direct access to any helpful resources that may benefit their learning. The comment library can be shared with grading teams to ensure all feedback being shared is consistent.
Grading time is cut down significantly while using Crowdmark, instructors have more time to leave detailed, richer feedback for students.
If you would like more information about how Crowdmark can help you leave detailed feedback for students, contact email@example.com