14 Ways to Give Students Meaningful Feedback (2023)

14 Ways to Give Students Meaningful Feedback (1)

by Rosie Byrnes, October 18, 2021

The blog to teach

How do students know when they are on the right track and when it is time for a realignment? Learn how your feedback can help improve the learning process and how to give feedback that counts.

If you've ever spent time with young children learning to walk, you've probably noticed a curious phenomenon: When they lose their balance and fall to the ground, they usually look at adults before deciding how to react.

14 Ways to Give Students Meaningful Feedback (2)

When the adult shows signs of distress or concern, the young child often becomes angry and begins to cry. But if the adults are happy, encouraging, and confident, these toddlers will usually get up and start walking again.

(Video) Six Ways to Give Meaningful Feedback to ELA Students Without Completely Burning Yourself Out

Why? Because they learned from the reactions of those around them: they responded to direct feedback.

Feedback is an integral part of the learning process, from an early age. The way others react to our actions gives us clues about how we should feel about ourselves and serves as a guide for what we will do next.

Of course, as educators, we know how important it is to provide meaningful feedback to our students. But how can we understand what types of feedback are most valuable, and how can we be sure we're making suggestions that truly transform the way our students learn?

feedback and the brain

Understanding how feedback works during the learning process can help you make informed decisions about how to provide the right feedback to your learners.

How do we know from the university?neuroscienceygrowth thinkingpractices, our brains have the potential to constantly change. When we perceive new stimuli, they reach the brain through our sensory perceptions and establish connections and pathways between our neurons. As we learn from feedback that responds to stimuli, or the resulting actions, these pathways form circuits that help guide our future behavior and decision making.

Because feedback from another person is also a form of external stimulus, the way we provide feedback to young learners can have an impact on how it is delivered.circuitsformed to guide their future decisions.

Although many of us may not see the feedback we give our students as a reward or a punishment,studies showthat the brain sees things differently: these neural pathways still respond to feedback as if it were an external motivator.

This means that the way you provide feedback is critical to how your students respond to it. Because we typically use verbal or written language to provide feedback, the context, tone, and vocabulary we choose can determine how it is received and how it affects students' neural pathways and future decisions.

When providing feedback to students, keep these tips in mind:

1. Praise their efforts, not their talents.

It's tempting to tell our kids how smart and talented we think they are, but that kind of praise can actually have long-term negative repercussions.

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To help children: agrowth thinking, we should praise growth-oriented behaviors, like hard work, rather than seemingly "fixed" traits like talent or intelligence. Try praise like "I'm so proud of all the effort he put into this" or "All of his hard work really paid off."

2. Mistakes and mistakes don't have to feel negative.

People with a growth mindset know that mistakes are part of the learning process and that real learning is not possible without them. In fact, people learn much more from their mistakes than from their successes, so mistakes should be celebrated!

Encourage your children to change their mindset and take pride in their temporary failures. After all,"The only true failure can come when you give up!"

3. Be specific.

General comments like "good job" or "almost done" are easy to give, but not always easy for the recipient to understand.

Giving feedback that describes exactly what students are doing well or what they need to improve can be infinitely more effective.

4. Explain comments whenever possible.

For specific feedback, go even further by providing detailed explanations of why you chose those suggestions.

For example, "Use more descriptive words" can be helpful feedback for student writing, but it can be even more helpful with a reason: "Adding more descriptions here will help convey a picture to your readers."

5. Start with a clear goal.

When students know where they are going from the start, it's easier for them to double-check during the process to make sure they're on the right track.

A clear and concise learning objective also serves as a reference point when providing feedback to students. If you're not sure what the students' goal is, how can you be sure they're on the right track?

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6. Keep it on time.

Feedback is most valuable when it is given immediately after the task or even during the completion process. The longer you wait between student activities and provide feedback on them, the less relevant your feedback will be.

If possible, try to respond to comments during student work or as soon as possible.

7. Feedback is not just for finished work.

Many teachers only provide feedback at the end of a completed assignment, after a test, essay, project, etc. But the most effective feedback is provided during the creation process, giving students the opportunity to change and rotate their work as they go. .

Try to be there to give students feedback at every step of the process so they can put your suggestions into action right away.

8. Provide personal comments.

The best feedback is given at a personalized and individual level and not directed at a whole group. Studies show that when feedback is given to an entire group, most group members assume the feedback applies to everyone else, so they probably won't consider it themselves.

By giving personal, one-on-one feedback, you show your students that you know what they are doing on an individual level and that you are there to support them.

9. Allow time for questions and discussion.

Sometimes the feedback we give our students may not resonate with them the first time. By giving students the opportunity to ask questions about the feedback, we can give them a chance to understand it better.

Discussing their comments, either with the teacher or with a peer group, can also be a great way to help students consider their comments beyond the surface.

10. Student autonomy facilitates self-reflection.

It is common in many classrooms for students to reflect on their own work, but this loses much of its value when the teacher remains the one who sets all the expectations. Engaging students in self-reflection on an assignment given by the teacher is little more than letting them guess what you are going to think, not a good use of your time!

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But when students are part of the goal setting process, self-reflection becomes much stronger. When you give students the autonomy to direct their own learning process, they are better able to pause and reflect meaningfully as they go.

11. Feedback should come from many different sources.

While it's easy to assume that the teacher always knows best, many subjects (for example, writing) can be highly subjective.

The feedback that resonates best with students does not always come from the teacher. So encourage your students to seek our feedback from their peers, families, heroes, and any other helpful resources they can find.

12. Teach students to give (and acknowledge) helpful feedback.

Not all comments are created equal, and knowing how to ignore unhelpful comments is just as important as learning how to act on helpful ones.

By teaching students to give quality feedback to their peers, you also show them what quality feedback looks like when it reaches them.

13. Provide feedback based on understanding of the concept, not on completion of the task.

It's easy to measure student success by whether students did what you asked them to do, but is it really an accurate measure of learning? Often the homework we assign students is closely related to the concepts we want them to learn, but the two are not synonymous.

It may be that the students understood the concept perfectly, but could not perform the task exactly as described. So the next time you create a project rubric, you might want to ask yourself if "audience eye contact" during a book launch is a true measure of student comprehension of the book.

14. Go beyond "good enough."

I had an English teacher in high school who used to say, "Writing is never done, it just has to." There are always things to improve in learning, and the right feedback can encourage students to take the next step forward.

Ask students to think of other ways they could solve a problem, do more research on a topic, or practical ways to apply their new knowledge.

(Video) Providing Meaningful Feedback for Students by Teresa Corry

How do you give meaningful feedback on your lessons? Let us know by connecting with us on our social channels!


1. Offering Meaningful Feedback
(Katie Heidt)
2. Providing Meaningful Feedback with Kaizena
(Matt Bergman)
3. Reel Time Real Talk - Part 1 (Episode 22)
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4. Floop - Meaningful Feedback Faster
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5. Every teenager NEEDS to hear this! (2023)
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6. Sunday 14 00 14 45 Giving clear and meaningful feedback that can be acted upon and leads to progress
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