“Stop ranting!” That’s what students think when a teacher starts giving feedback. Research also shows that most kids find feedback demoralizing, irrelevant, and unhelpful.
Here we share a few ideas for getting students to take your feedback seriously. But first, why do students hate getting feedback? As a teacher, you understand the value of your advice, but so do your students? Look at it from a psychological perspective – there is a cognitive gap between teachers and students. Most students can’t bridge that gap, and so they don’t understand the value of what is being imparted.
Another reason students ignore feedback is that they cannot make sense of it. Sometimes faculty comments are only remedial in nature; they are only concerned with what was right and what was wrong. Such comments ignore the instructional aspects of the feedback cycle. This happens because teachers don’t see the feedback between what it really is – an integral part of the teaching and learning process.
The most widely used strategy is to allot provisional grades against the submitted work and ask students to discuss their assignments. It could be a class activity or a group activity. The advice shared during verbal discussions is received, always, better than the one-handed over as a written note. Another common practice is to withhold the grade altogether until students submit an improved piece of work that incorporates the feedback.
An excellent technique is to make students ask for feedback. This can be achieved, easily, by redesigning the assessment practices. The assignments are designed to force students into using the feedback they were provided. Just like a video game – testing sessions are broken down into stages, in which, students, compulsorily, need to implement the previous feedback in order to succeed with the subsequent stages of the test.
Another good strategy – although it may not work with young kids – is to teach the importance of feedback to your students. Feedback has a metacognitive component; once students grow aware of its value, they become more receptive to it. Try to involve the students in the process of developing the assessment criteria. Once students get actively involved in the process and make their own assessment decisions, they begin developing an understanding of the value of feedback they receive post-test.
It works fabulously well. For example, students should write the paper. Discuss with them what should be graded in the paper. Which is more important, content or grammar? Explain and justify your grading system.
Another powerful trick is to ask the students to document the feedback, its effect on their understanding, and how they have used it to improve their skills.
Moreover, it’s necessary to have a learning environment that allows students to feel comfortable with being advised. Self-assessments, peer assessments, and group discussions are effective tools to nurture such an environment. Self-assessments help students grow aware of their shortcomings; this prompts them to seek advice so that they can measure up to the required standards.
Students are found to be more sensitive to peer advice, which makes peer assessments and group discussions invaluable for reducing stress associated with feedback. Together, they can help students grow more receptive to your feedback.
You should also think about collecting real-life stories, in which students have made unexpected gains and achieved phenomenal success by attending to teacher advice.
If you want your students to value feedback, you must make them WANT it. For that, you need to, actively, create situations that force students to step forward and ask for advice. It could be done, either, by forcing students to show that they can apply the lessons learned from feedback, or else, by helping students grow aware of their flaws and the possibility that those flaws can be converted into opportunities.