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From Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies For Increasing Student Achievement, by Robert J Marzano, Debra J Pickering and Jane EPollack, some generalizations to guide the use of feedback.
- Feedback should be “corrective” in nature. Corrective feedback provides students with an explanation of what they are doing well, and what went wrong. The best feedback involves an explanation as to what is accurate and inaccurate. The writers also suggest that asking students to keep working on a task until they succeed appears to enhance achievement.
- Feedback should be timely. Timing of feedback appears to be critical to its effectiveness. The best feedback is given immediately after a test-like situation. In general, they say, the more delay that occurs, the less improvement there is. Note as well that giving tests immediately after a learning situation has a negligible effect; waiting a day seems optimal.
- Feedback should be specific to a criterion. For feedback to be most useful, it should reference a specific level of skill or knowledge. Make it criterion referenced (where they stand relative to a specific target of knowledge or skill) and not norm-referenced (where they stand in relation to others). Criterion-based feedback has a more powerful effect on student learning. One way to do this is the use of rubrics. Make rubrics informational; explain what a score of four means with regard to proficiency as opposed to a score of two. Rubrics can also be adapted for processes or skills.
- Students can effectively provide some of their own feedback. Research indicates that students can sometimes effectively monitor their own progress. This commonly takes the form of students’ simply keeping track of ther progress during learning. They might make a chart of their accuracy, speed or both while learning is taking place.
In general, the more specific feedback is, the better. When possible, try to focus feedback on specific types of knowledge and skill. Set objectives, and then provide timely feedback.
sole source: “Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement” by Robert J Marzano, Debra J Pickering and Jane E Pollack. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ISBN 0-87120-504-1.
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