How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students

How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students

How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students

How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students


A teacher's feedback on student schoolwork can be a powerful force for learning-- if it contains a helpful message and is delivered with certain considerations in mind. But what kind of content makes a feedback message helpful to a student? And what kinds of strategies work best for delivering feedback?

In How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students, Susan M. Brookhart answers these questions by describing important elements of feedback content (focus, comparison, function, valence, clarity, specificity, and tone) and strategy (timing, amount, mode, and audience). Grounded in what researchers have learned about effective feedback, the book provides practical suggestions and classroom examples that demonstrate what to do--and not do--to have a positive impact on students. In addition to general guidelines for good feedback, readers will learn what kinds of feedback work best in the various content areas, and how to adjust feedback for different kinds of learners, including successful students, struggling students, and English language learners.

Done well, feedback has a two-pronged effect: it influences cognitive factors by helping students understand where they are in their learning and where they need to go next, and it influences motivational factors by helping students develop a feeling of control over their own learning. Taken together, these factors explain why learning how to give good feedback should be at the top of every teacher's to-do list.


Feedback says to a student, “Somebody cared enough about my work to read it and think about it!” Most teachers want to be that “somebody.” Feedback matches specific descriptions and suggestions with a particular student’s work. It is just-in-time, just-for-me information delivered when and where it can do the most good.

This book is intended to help teachers provide such feedback to students. The focus is on feedback that comes from a teacher to a student and is based on student work. In the context of the book, the term feedback means “teacher feedback on student schoolwork.” Important as they are, responses to student behavior are not considered here.

Feedback as Part of Formative Assessment

Feedback is an important component of the formative assessment process. Formative assessment gives information to teachers and students about how students are doing relative to classroom learning goals. From the student’s point of view, the formative assessment “script” reads like this: “What knowledge or skills do I aim to develop? How close am I now? What do I need to do next?” Giving good feedback is one of the skills teachers need to master as . . .

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