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Use Multiple Aspects of Feedback

Valued Contributor

One of the most important elements of any faculty engagement in student success is meaningful, substantive, and timely feedback. Hattie and Timperley (2007) identified feedback as one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement. What faculty in higher education need to recognize is regardless of their age, demographics, or levels of maturity, all students seek feedback on their work. Findings from a study by Hills, Levett-Jones, Warren-Forward, and Lapkin (2016) revealed students preferred regular and consistent feedback regarding their level of proficiency, and highly desired immediate and explicit feedback pertaining to areas of improvement, even more so than praise.  


Briefly, meaningful or substantive feedback typically falls into one of three general categories: Positive, Negative, or Neutral. For most education professional, Negative feedback has been largely removed from learning pedagogical/andragogical learning constructs. Although students can gain value from either category, Hills et al. (2016) study revealed students responded most favorably to Positive feedback;  and the principle purpose for Positive feedback can be unpacked into three dimensions; Corrective, Constructive, or Praise.


Corrective Feedback is perhaps best used to fix or repair misunderstood concepts, or redirect erroneous thinking or misconceptions. The intent is to ensure the student has a clear understanding of the facts or logic in place before arriving at a conclusion.


Constructive Feedback is perhaps best used to enhance or improve on the student's existing original thought, by suggesting additional perspectives or considerations. The intent is to expand the students understanding to encompass other possible answer/solutions, by taking a 'sideways look' at the issue.


Praise Feedback should be used to authentically acknowledge and celebrate the student work effort. Praise Feedback should appear in every assessment, and be delivered genuinely and not as a consolation ex; "…I'm sure you did your best."


Still, many of us limit our student feedback to Corrective and Constructive, under-using Praise oriented responses. This analogous to the student who shows their parent a report card with four A's and one B. The initial response is to focus on the one "B" rather than celebrate the A's. Assessing work from the Corrective or Constructive perspective often fails to celebrate the Praise-worthy work that was done.


Faculty across teaching disciplines and modalities are encouraged to include authentic praise-worthy feedback into all their student assessments where feasible. It costs us nothing, improves student outcomes and enhances the potential for greater student engagement.