There are many different types of feedback that can be given to students. It has been shown that good feedback can make a significant difference to a student’s future performance.
The type of feedback depends on the assessment process used.
- Formative assessment – as the students are learning, the teacher is monitoring and giving specific feedback. Teachers should then be adjusting their questioning and the activities based on their formative assessment observations.
- Summative assessment – the traditional pre- or post-test with a grade/number attached. These can then be used to inform future teaching, for example, to decide if there is a need to reteach a concept. They are also used for reporting.
- Diagnostic assessment – a test or set of questions designed to discover what students already know and what misconceptions they hold. This will inform what the teacher goes on to teach.
To be effective, feedback should be:
- timely – not too long after the piece of work was done so that it is still relevant
- constructive/informative – not just a grade (often only a comment), and comments that enable the student to implement changes that will improve future pieces of work
- specific to the task and related to the learning outcomes or success criteria
- not just praise – this can be negative as the student can become complacent
- detailed – students need to know what was good and what needs improvement
- positively worded and non-judgemental
- given sparingly so that it is meaningful.
Feedback can be given in a variety of ways:
- Verbally – in response to a question in class.
- Written – as a comment on a piece of work or test. In mathematics it is important that the feedback is more than just a number/grade or ticks and crosses. Comments should be informative and direct the students as to how they can make improvements to their future performance.
- Through technology – for example, leaving a comment (voice note, written or video) on work handed in electronically.