Courtney Kofeldt

Feedback Focused: Part 1 and 2

Blog Post created by Courtney Kofeldt on Jul 26, 2016

As an Edtech Coordinator one of my goals next year is to help teachers transform their feedback. Below are two posts I recently wrote on my personal blog that I wanted to share with the Canvas Community.

Part 1

One of my AAU basketball coaches would always say “When I stop pushing and being tough on you, that is when you have to worry.” At that time, I didn’t fully grasp what he meant by it. Reflecting on it now as a teacher and coach, I am able to appreciate his words. He was letting us  know that he challenged us because he cared and saw our potential. He was giving us the feedback and criticism necessary to take us to the next level of playing.

I recently found an  older article, by Paul Sohn, discussing the secret to great feedback, which reminded me of my coach’s catchphrase.  It stated:

Researchers discovered that there was one particular type of teacher feedback that improved student effort and performance so much that they considered it “magical.”Students who received this feedback chose to revise their paper far more often that students who did not (a 40 percent increase among white students; 320 percent boost among black students) and improved their performance significantly. What was the magical feedback?

Just one sentence:

I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations for you, and I know that you can reach them.

Similar to my coach’s words: very simple, short and to the point but possess a great power to generate a sense of belonging, connection and motivation.

As teachers, we must understand the power our feedback can have on a student’s progress.  To make it a positive, meaningful experience, we must first do some ground work.

  • Your first step before anything is creating a relationship with your students. They must know that everything you do is because you care. I believe these two quotes embody the connection between student relationships and feedback:
    • Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care- Theodore Roosevelt.

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  • When students experience an authentic, crystal-clear signal of social trust, belonging, and high expectations, the floodgates click open. – Daniel Coyle
  • Have an open dialogue about feedback to begin the year. Discuss how receiving feedback is a positive experience and learning opportunity.

After laying the ground work, the next step is actually creating a process for feedback. In my Part 2 post, I will discuss some ideas I have that may help you move from having feedback be a singular, red ink event towards a “loop” and reflective conversation. It will focus on tools and strategies that will aid in the process!

Part 2:

In part 1, I focused on the connection between feedback and student relationships. This quote from the late Pat Summit is not only timely, but also accurately summarizes my thoughts.

absence-of-feedback

I believe technology can transform our feedback. When used effectively it can help us shift the process from a one way, red inked statement to a reflective and empowering conversation loop. When students hand in their final paper, it tends to be the end of the conversation. We return their work with our comments scattered throughout, and we move on to the next assignment. With the help of technology, we can move away from the method of one way delivery and truly promote growth in our learners by changing the feedback process.

SpeedGrader in Canvas

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Now do not let the name fool you. Similar to Turnitin, it allows the teacher to add in annotations and comments directly on a student’s digital paper. It gives teachers the ability to provide focused feedback and specific guidance on how to improve.Ultimately, technology can provide the means, but teachers need to utilize it effectively. I love this example from Dr. Natalie Saaris on focused feedback.

“Imagine if you were trying to master a new skill, such as perfecting a free throw in basketball. After several failed attempts to get the ball in the hoop, you finally manage to score. Would it be more beneficial to hear the coach yell “Excellent!” across the court, or would it be better to know exactly why this shot was successful, unlike the previous ones? (“Yes! You bent your wrist 90 degrees before you flicked it, and that made all the difference.”) Taking the time to specify what the student did right or wrong enables the student to succeed when the same strategy or skill is applied in the future.”

Speedgrader also gives you options for how you deliver the feedback such as audio, video or text. After providing your comments, what sets the tool apart is the ability it gives to students.  Students can respond and reflect with the discussion feature . You can continue the conversation and should design your feedback so that it prompts discussion and questions. It is a great opportunity for students to reflect on the cognitive process and understand the strategies that lead to successful performance.

Google Applications

Google Applications give us a better chance to provide regular, ongoing feedback.  With the use of the collaborative nature of Google Apps, students can share notes and ideas enabling them to learn from one another and provide peer review. This can be done through the use of the various share settings available. Students can be at three review levels- collaborator, commenter or viewer. All can be used in a variety of ways to build the relationship of learner and peer reviewer and meet their individual needs and styles.

Research on self- and peer-assessment has shown that giving students opportunities to self regulate and self assess produces results and deeper reflection about the learning process.  It gets students thinking about the process not just the product as well!

More than Tools, We Need Relationships

From my own experience, I know that feedback is an art that teachers master in different ways.  Bill Ferriter has some wonderful posts on how he is utilizing various methods to improve the feedback process. He focuses on a multitude of feedback related topics from how students can gather feedback rather than be given it to specific forms he is utilizing to promote feedback reflection. Click here to view his posts on Feedback

I know technology can provide us innovative methods of delivery, but we are in control of how to best help a student! This brings me back to part 1 of my post, it cannot be said enough about the importance of building relationships first and foremost which will then lead to growth and deeper learning.

Outcomes