Deeper Feedback Strategies, Part 2

By Scott Sterling

This is the second post (part 1 is here) discussing ten feedback strategies developed by the new Learning Sciences Dylan Wiliam Center that provide students with more meaningful insight and deeper thought into their mastery process.

In all classes, feedback should be embraced as an integral part of the education process. Yet, too often, students dread receiving feedback because the strategies being used are viewed as punitive or not constructive. Here are some other strategies to try.

Scavenger hunt

With assignments in which students had to provide multiple answers, like a quiz or other formal assessment, teachers tend to mark the incorrect answers and establish a percentage for the grade. But what if there were a better way?

Don’t mark the incorrect answers. Instead, simply write the number of incorrect answers at the top of the page. It’s then up to the student to figure out what needs to be improved. That can be done either individually or as a collaborative effort (but make sure the students in the group aren’t simply trading answers).

Scavenger hunt – writing

Writing is important, but teachers almost dread assigning essays and reports as much as students dread them being assigned. It’s a lot of work – writing and grading – for both parties.

Instead, along the same lines as the last strategy, simply place a mark in the margin where a mistake is found. Don’t identify the mistake. The student then gets an opportunity to think deeply about the possible mistakes and revise their paper accordingly.

Traffic lights

Mastery is a process, and a process is never just one step. Yet, students rarely participate in assignments that show progress rather than immediate results. Here is an easy way to fix that.

Get out three markers: red, yellow, and green. When students turn in work, rate their success either:

  • red, meaning significantly far from mastery
  • yellow, meaning some revision is still needed
  • green, meaning mastery was achieved

Assignments receiving a red or yellow can be revised. Grades are derived from how many greens and yellows the student received over the course of the unit or grading period.

Measuring up

In the mastery process, it can be helpful for students to see exemplars of assignments. Sometimes that occurs before the students embark on their own work, but what if exemplars are given after the first draft? Simply show them an exemplary version of the assignment before they turn in their work and give them an opportunity to see for themselves where they can improve without even needing your input.

Guess who

This one is almost like a game. Organize students into groups of four and write comments critiquing each assignment on strips of paper without the name of the student to whom the comments belong. Give the group the four comments and their four assignments. Then, the group has to collaborate to match up the comments with the assignments before helping each other revise their work toward mastery.

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