“Feedback is useful information about performance. It is not praise, it is not evaluation, it is not a number on a standardized test. So, true feedback is critical—perhaps the key element—in effective learning.  No goal worth meeting is ever met without good feedback and opportunities to use it.”  – Grant Wiggins

How Am I Doing?

Our learners tell us on surveys that our feedback as faculty – communication that helps them understand how they doing and how to either maintain or enhance performance – is critical to their success. And without feedback, our learners begin to take our silence as a loud statement that they are not meeting expectations.

Quality “feedback arms students with a more adequate and accurate sense of how well they are meeting the learning objectives in ways that sustain and enrich learning itself” suggests Richard Keeling and Richard Hersch coauthors of We’re Losing Our Minds, Rethinking American Higher Education. “Testing takes place,” suggests Keeling and Hersch, “but usually at a point at which it is too late for feedback to be useful and rarely at a level of sophistication that does justice to higher learning” (Keeling & Hersch, 2012).

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman (2011) provides this helpful insight, “The acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions. When these conditions are fulfilled, skill eventually develops, and the intuitive judgments and choices that quickly come to mind will mostly be accurate” (Kahneman, 2011).

7 Principles of Good Feedback Practice that Facilitates Self-Regulation

A review of the literature (Nicol & Mcfarlane-Dick, 2007) found seven principles that guide good feedback practice that facilitates self-regulation of student learning and including:

  1. Clarification of what good performance looks like (e.g., goals, criteria, standards, expectations)
  2. Development of self-assessment (reflection) in learning
  3. Delivery of high-quality information to students about their learning
  4. Encouragement for dialog between teachers and peers and peer-to-peer dialog
  5. Encouragement related to positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
  6. Opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance
  7. Information that teachers can use themselves to help shape teaching

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Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Keeling , R., & Hersch, R. (2012). We’re Losing Our Minds, Rethinking American Higher Education. New York, New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Nicol, D.J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2007). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31:2, 199-218.

Wiggans, G. (2010). Feedback: How Learning Occurs. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from http://www.authenticeducation.org/ae_bigideas/article.lasso?artId=61

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