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Teaching Students to Use Feedback: A Step Toward Deeper Learning

This article first appeared in the Teaching Professor on March 11, 2019. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.

How many of us teachers have had this experience? You spend an afternoon reading student work and providing detailed feedback. You return the work convinced that your notes will help students deepen their learning and meet the course objectives. Then you see students glancing at the grade and quickly tucking those papers in their notebooks. Or, you provide the feedback electronically and can tell it’s never been opened. What’s going on here?

Providing relevant and focused feedback is one of the most effective ways to “move the needle” on learning (Wiggins, 2012; Wiliam, 2016). But it doesn’t do anything for learning if students don’t read and use the feedback. If they don’t, we’re left wondering if it’s worth our time to provide it.

Recently I had an experience that forced me to rethink my feedback practices. My graduate students conduct research projects over the course of one year. In the fall term, they write research proposals and review relevant research. In winter, they implement their projects and collect data, and in spring they write about their findings. During each quarter both a draft paper and a final paper are due; I provide feedback on both. I focus my feedback on the objectives of the assignment, but also offer suggestions on how to improve their writing.

Originally posted at Faculty Focus