Dealing with students feedback

It’s funny to think about how the relationship between teachers and students has changed. Some years ago, the teacher would simply tell a student off and then s/she would study harder or so, even parents would support the teacher. Nowadays things are different. Feedback has to be well thought about.

Anyway, define what feedback is first. Hattie and Timplerley [2003] from the University of Auckland defined that feedback is the information provided by the teacher regarding aspects of students’s performance or understanding. They claim that a teacher can provide corrective information, a peer can provide an alternative strategy, a book can provide clarification of ideas, and so on, and a learner can look up the answer to evaluate the correctness of a response. Thus, feedback is a “consequence” of performance.

Well, giving feedback can be an issue of the teacher does not think on word selection well.  I believe our main aim regarding a student is to engage him in our class and to make him enjoy and learn the content, therefore feedback is important.

Some teachers may have the tendency to pay more attention to the good students, some may even think that as the student is good, no feedback is needed. On the other hand, depending on the feedback given to a student who’s been below standards, no encouragement is done.

Positive feedback is crucial as the rationale behind giving feedback is to reduce discrepancies between current understanding and performance and the course objectives.

Feedback may serve to help students increase their effort concerning practicing, studying, dealing with the language, maybe even including some more difficult tasks. They may develop error detection becoming more able to self correct them.

According to the article “The Power of Feedback” there are three questions to be answered:
Where is the student going to? [the objectives]
How is he going? [performance]
Where to go next? [study plan]

It’s very important to give feedback showing the path to go next. From my point of view it’s rather useless to tell a student his “grades” but not show him ways of improvement.

Some students resent the fact that they haven’t done quite well and decide to quit in the middle of a semester instead of putting some effort and turn the game into their favour. I guess they may feel like it’d be their choice to quit and no demonstration of weakness or inability with the language.

Feedback, as mentioned before is to minimise the discrepancies, not to make a student give up learning.

Think well, chose your words carefully and most of all, provide ways of enhancing your students’ learning and, from my point of view, you may achieve a good ability to give feedback.

The online version of the article “The Power of Feedback” can be found at:

Beatriz Meneguetti

Mª Beatriz Magalhães Silva Meneguetti Teacher, teacher trainer, school director and sworn translator with over 30 years’ experience, graduated in English, post graduated in methodology, linguistics, school management and marketing. Holder of major proficiency certificates from Cambridge and Michigan Universities and holder of the DELTA and MA in Professional Development for Language Education from Chichester University. Academic director of ABCI - Brazilian Association of Culturas Inglesas.

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