Everyone can do a little better with some constructive criticism. Don’t you agree? Professional or personal, a person always needs feedback to grow in life. Providing meaningful feedback can enhance learning when it comes to students. A lot of teachers already are aware of this. Anyone who’s learning a new skill needs information about what they’re doing wrong or right to move forward. 

But the catch is not every criticism is effective or useful. Sometimes if you share information the wrong way, it can be counterproductive to the person you’re trying to guide. So what is the most effective way of giving it in both online and offline classrooms? Let’s find out!

Specific feedback is always better

You must have heard “this is fine”, “that’s great” or “this is not it” from someone. It’s not difficult to tell that this does not help the one receiving such feedback. They don’t know what they did right or wrong and how much of it needs fixing. 

Researchers suggest that you should take time to process and then provide learners with information on what exactly they did well, and what may still need improvement. Additionally, if you can tell what the learner did differently than before, it can be all the more helpful for them. 

Timing, Timing and you guessed it…Timing!

A number of studies have shown that criticism is most effective when it is given immediately compared to a few days or weeks. One study even explored delayed vs immediate feedback and found that participants who got it immediately showed better performance than those who got it delayed. 

The University of Minnesota did a research project that showed how students who received lots of immediate feedback could comprehend the material better. 

However, we do understand that it’s not always possible to provide immediate feedback to students but the sooner the better. 

Be careful as you present feedback 

It’s crucial to pay attention to the fact that words can make or break a situation. Especially when you are giving feedback because you are giving it to better someone, not to point out their flaws for the sake of it. Sometimes, even the most well-meaning feedback can be received the wrong way and reduce someone’s motivation.

Psychologist and author Edward Deci has identified three situations in which feedback could be counterproductive:

  • When learners feel too strictly monitored: If learners feel that they are being too closely monitored, they might become nervous or self-conscious, and as a result, disengaged from learning.
  • When learners interpret feedback as an attempt to control them: Learners may sometimes interpret feedback as an attempt to control them or tell them how they should be doing something rather than guidance on how to improve.
  • When learners feel an uncomfortable sense of competition: Feedback shared in a group setting could cause learners to feel like they have to compete with their peers. This can be another source of disengagement in learning.

To avoid these situations, Deci suggests fully explaining the purpose of any monitoring, and ensuring that learners understand how the feedback is meant to help them compete against their own personal bests rather than each other.

Please let this article become a springboard for discussion and let us know in the comments what you think about this.