Best Practices for Effective Feedback 

Jiwon Han

Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow 2020-2021

Giving feedback to students is an integral part of teaching. Many instructors often find offering feedback as time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it is still an important part of communication between the instructor and students. Based on Professor Maria Treglia’s research on feedback for BCC students and interviews with veteran tutors at the BCC Writing Center, here are what you can consider for effective feedback.

Be clear and precise as possible

  • Avoid simple vague phrases such as “Good job!” or “Well done!”
  • Identify and specify how students can fix errors or improve the writing.
  • Do not assume your comments are self-explanatory. Since many of our students come from different educational backgrounds, students often find it difficult to understand short succinct comments. Many students prefer to see detailed feedback (Treglia 2019).
  • Point out what the student is doing well in the writing.
  • Be consistent with your feedback either in oral or written form. Many instructors tend to remain “nice” in in-class oral feedback but focus on the negatives in written feedback. This can confuse students.

Be aware of disparities in knowledge and power between the instructor and students

  • Forget your “ideal writing” sample and consider that students are just beginning to gain knowledge of the discipline; the gap between the instructor and students is often larger than seen from the instructor’s side.
  • Remember that your feedback is a conversation between you and the student. Directive and authoritative feedback can discourage students, especially for many students who experienced discomfort with authority.
  • Be careful not to penalize for stylistic preference, non-standardized English particularly by Multiple Language Learners (MLLs); language proficiency and critical thinking skills are often irrelevant.

Use feedback as a guide to assist students’ process of development 

  • Encourage students to incorporate instructors’ feedback in their revisions.
  • Allow multiple attempts to fully incorporate the feedback offered by the instructor.
  • Or, scaffold the tasks and assignments so that the students can practice what they learned.

Sources
Treglia, Maria Ornella. “Feedback on Feedback: Exploring Student Responses to Teachers’ Written Commentary.” Journal of Basic Writing 27, no. 1 (2008): 105-137.
———————-. “Marginal Commentary: Are Students and Instructors on the Same Page?” Teaching/Writing: The Journal of Writing Teacher Education 6, Issue 1 (2019): 112 -131.

Interviews with Betty Doyle, James Noguera, Jose Reyes, and George Sorrentini

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