Giving effective feedback is not always easy. But it is a skill that can be learned (and taught). The very first thing in feedback is to have a clear focus where to target it and an understanding about the desired outcome. If the objective is to write a story with a good plot, there is not much sense in giving feedback about poor handwriting, or even the grammatical mistakes (while, of course, when practicing grammar, it would be insane to praise the good cursive skills, right?).
The other important part for effective feedbak is the need for several back and forth exhanges between you and your student. If the feedback becomes a monology is not effective. The very idea of a feedback loop carries the importance of discussion and co-operation for better reacing a mutual goal. A simple nod or one word answer does not cound as an exchange. Open-ended questions that also show your genuine interest regarding the project or process are best conversation starters, as they provide the student an opprotunity to tell about her/his thinking.
Here are some of my own thoughts about effective and emotionally safe feedback that guarantees better co-operation and thus deeper learning:
Ø Never criticize personal characteristics or skills - student cannot easily change them.
Ø Only focus on the product/process and achieving the objective - don't generalize.
Ø Use the objective as a framework in targeting the feedback - this is also the idea of rubrics.
Ø Focus first on something positive within the process - talk about the good you see happening.
Ø Give a suggestion for improvement - and ask an open-ended question about it.
Ø Check understanding by asking your student to explain his/her plan for improvement.
The last point is very important, because it clearly places the responsibility of improvement to students. Unfortunately our student assessment systems too often focus on skills instead of the process of learning. That is why it is so essential to have strong informal feedback system in classroom to support the meaningfulness of learning and teaching.
You can click HERE to download a pdf for feedback.