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The 3 Things You Are Doing Wrong When Giving Feedback [VIDEO]

Katie Novak
Katie Novak
July 25, 2023

Traditional approaches to feedback require teachers to collect student work and spend time giving written feedback during their prep periods (when they could be co-designing dynamic learning experiences) or at home (when they should be relaxing and spending time focusing on self-care). This workflow is time-consuming, often ineffective, and puts all the pressure on the teacher to think critically about student work. Let’s look at three major challenges posed by giving feedback in this traditional workflow.

Feedback Is Infrequent and Focuses on Minutiae

Even though teachers know feedback is an essential part of the learning process, it is easy to neglect because it is time-consuming to give. Not only do most teachers take feedback home, spending hours of their evenings and weekends leaving comments on student work, but the scope of feedback is far too wide. And the wider the scope, the more time teachers spend on each piece of student work. Most teachers have between 30 and 160 students. That teacher-student ratio means that if a single teacher spends three minutes with each piece of student work (a modest amount by most teachers’ standards!), they invest anywhere from ninety minutes to eight hours of time providing feedback to their students on a single assignment. If that is work that follows a teacher home, it makes sense that teachers would not provide feedback frequently.

Feedback Happens in Isolation

Feedback is an opportunity for a conversation between the teacher and the student. Yet students often complete work in isolation at home, teachers provide feedback in isolation, and that feedback is then delivered to students for them to digest in isolation. This traditional workflow does not create space for a conversation about the student’s progress. There are also fewer opportunities in this workflow for students to ask questions or seek additional support if feedback is unclear or they are unsure how to act. As a result, some students do not do anything with the feedback they get, which is incredibly frustrating after the time teachers have invested in providing notes and suggestions.

Feedback Is Provided on Finished Products

Often, feedback is relegated to finished products. Students complete an assignment and submit it for a grade. Teachers review the work, providing comments, suggestions, and corrections. However, at that point, there is zero incentive for students to do anything with the feedback. By contrast, teachers who provide feedback as students work give them the tools and support they need to grow and develop as they progress through an assignment or task. This makes feedback relevant and valuable because it helps students to create a stronger finished product.

So, not only do the traditional approaches to feedback create mountains of work that teachers haul home, but the time investment does not yield significant results in terms of student growth and development. How do we make feedback more effective and sustainable? How do we get more eyes on student work to ensure the teacher isn’t the only person responsible for thinking critically about work and giving students feedback?

We need to shift to a student-led approach and provide feedback during the process, involve more indivudals in the feedback process and reduce the burden on teachers. 

To get started, check out the video below from co-authors Catlin Tucker and Katie Novak. Then for more tips and templates on how to shift traditional workflows and place students at the center of their learning, explore The Shift to Student-Led: Reimagining Classroom Workflows with UDL and Blended Learning.


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