Methods to give and get feedback.
The list includes activities you can use to get feedback from students, as well as activities that let students perform peer review on each others' texts.
- When providing feedback, remember to give a direction rather than an evaluation. This is relevant for both students and faculty.
- When you receive feedback, first try to appreciate that someone wants to help you, before you reflect on which parts of the feedback you agree with and choose to listen to.
- For students to be able to learn from giving and getting feedback, you need to make sure that the learning environment is safe and supportive.
- Using the same feedback groups over time lets the students get to know each other.
- Clear instructions helps minimize criticism that might not be helpful in a writing progress.
What: Technique to get an impression of what students think or remember
When: In lectures
How: Start lecture time with asking students to contribute to a word cloud to associate or recover knowledge about a given topic. You may want to wait a few minutes before you show the word cloud to the students in order to avoid them copying each other.
- "What was the most important thing you learned last week?". Ask the students to discuss in pairs before submitting their words using Mentimeter.
- "What was most difficult to understand last week"?
- Follow the word cloud with the opportunity to write questions and comments (called "Open Ended" in Mentimeter).
Multiple choice questions
What: Activity to get feedback on what students have understood, give students feedback on how they perform, or let students help each other with understanding.
When: In lectures or seminars
How: Multiple choice assignments can be given in many ways, and it is important that you as a teacher have a clear plan of why and how to complete the activity. It is easier to use multiple-choice tasks to practice terms and concepts rather than argumentation.
- Clear language. The answers should be complete sentences. Avoid double negations, and avoid too many questions asking "what is NOT right".
- Sensible distractors. The wrong alternatives (the distractors) should be well thought out and adapted to students' misconceptions.
- See the Discussion exercise (Terms and concepts)
What: Let students reflect on their own competency and learning process.
When: In lectures and seminars.
How: Give clear instructions. Everyone in the room participates. Let the students know in advance if you intend to ask them to share their reflections with each other or to submit the text.
Example: "Before we finish this part of the topic, let's set aside some time to reflect on what we've been through. Find a piece of paper and pen and start the first sentence like this:" The past few weeks I've learned that ... ". We will keep writing for four minutes, and the most important thing is that you don't stop writing. You write only for yourself, and I will not ask you to share what you write. Ready, set, write."
- "What I find most difficult to understand in this topic is ..."
- "What I look forward to learning in this subject is ..."
- Ask students to make a list of the skills they have trained and developed over a specific period or course.
- Ask students to reflect on how programming / writing / discussions contribute to the learning process.
What: Method to let students support each other to write.
When: In seminars and small groups.
How: Talk to students about what to look for in each other's texts and how peer feedback can support with the writing process. It is important to avoid that the students become too critical of each other's drafts. A seminar leader should facilitate the peer feedback sessions, and should provide clear instructions and a framework for how to conduct peer feedback.
Example: Groups of 4-5 people where everyone has read each other's texts before the group meets. They have received clear instructions on what to look for and talk about. Here is a suggestion for implementation:
- Spend 20-30 minutes per text. Use a timer and be strict on time. Focus on the idea and the structure, not language and grammar.
- Bring and hand out a copy of each of the texts.
- The seminar leader should talk as little as possible. The students should do the work.
- Let the students speak in turn so that everyone participates and talks.
- For each text (up to 1000 words, preferably no more than 2 pages):
- The writer reads his entire text aloud.
- Readers provide a brief, positive feedback each.
- Readers discuss each section, describe what they see, and how they respond to the text. The writer listens.
- The seminar leader asks open-ended questions. (How do you respond to this, what are you wondering about here, where do you think the text is headed, what choices does the writer make, what is the effect of this paragraph, what does this sentence do?)
- Readers suggest further working hours.
- The seminar teacher helps put the suggestions into context. (The group's suggestion is to work on the structure of the second half of the text. What might be the effect of such a change?).
- The writer summarizes what is good about the text, asks questions, and makes a list of the plan for revising according to the feedback.
- Use the opportunities in Canvas to let students give peer feedback digitally.
What: Writing exercise for revision, developed by Pamela Flash, University of Minnesota.
When: After discovering a typical mistake or problem with the students' texts, before a new deadline for submission. In lectures or seminars.
Show students an example of a text where the relevant writing problem is evident. The example should be no more than 5 lines of text. Do not use the students' texts, but quote a relevant example from a previous courses or from your own writing.
- Ask students to discover and describe what the problem might be.
- Discuss how the problem may have occurred and why this is a common error. This step is important for students to transfer the revision skills to their own writing.
- Ask students to suggest solutions or make comments. If possible, make the changes on screen so that the group jointly edits a new version of the text. The demonstration shows how revision is a natural part of the writing process.
- Give students two examples of a short paragraph, before and after revision. Ask them to look for differences in the text and describe how the changes make the text more effective.
- Use the exercise to practice analysis, vocabulary, and reflections on good writing in advance of each other's review.