Feedback plays an important role in student learning and growth. Here are some best practices to consider when giving feedback to your students:

  • 1. Be Specific
    General comments such as “great work” or “that didn’t turn out well” does not help the student with their learning. Describe the specific part of the work that you are providing feedback about and explain why the work was great and what aspects did not turn out well. Also explain what steps they can take to improve – be future-focused in your feedback.
  • 2. Ask Questions
    Ask questions that help the student reflect on their work. Create a feedback dialogue. For example, “We talked about design elements in class the other day. How do you think you could incorporate that into this project?”  Have a look at Effective Feedback as a Dialogue from the University of Tasmania for more information.
  • 3. Be Timely
    For feedback to be most effective it needs to be timely. It should be provided while there is still an opportunity for the student to act upon it and learn from it. Giving feedback at the end of the project when students can’t use the feedback to guide future projects has little value. Make sure you offer frequent feedback throughout the project as well as when students are learning new skills or techniques.
  • 4. Focus on Effort and Practice
    Feedback that emphasizes effort and practice can play an important role in “guiding students towards successful long-term habits of mind” (CAST, 2018). For example, instead of saying “that’s a polished piece of work,” you could say “I can see how all the time and effort you have put into learning how to do X has really helped you do Y”. This is about providing feedback that helps engender a growth mindset in our students. When mistakes are made, be clear that making mistakes is an important part of the learning process. For more information, have a look at Mastery-Oriented Feedback and Teaching a Growth Mind-Set.
  • 5. Provide Feedback in Different Ways
    Not all feedback has to be provided in written form. You probably walk around the studio and provide verbal feedback to students as they work. For feedback on assignments, consider changing the mode of the feedback so it’s not always written. For example, consider using audio or visual feedback, one-on-one meetings, or providing feedback in groups when the students have made similar mistakes. Providing feedback in different ways helps to tap into the different ways that students learn and understand information.
  • 6. Provide Feedback First (and Delay the Grade)
    Students are more likely to engage with feedback and learn from it when it is not attached to a grade. Where possible, provide feedback first, and then provide the grade a day or so later. Otherwise, students tend to look at the grade first, and often do not reflect or even read the feedback.
  • 7. Create a Culture of Feedback
    Everyone receives feedback differently. Some students will be open to it and some students might get defensive. Work on creating a respectful and positive learning environment where feedback is valued and normalized. Aside from offering students frequent opportunities to receive feedback, make sure you also provide opportunities for students to give you feedback. Consider creating an anonymous stop, start, and continue survey during the middle of the semester. Have a look at Student Feedback for more information.
  • References

    Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., & Norman, M.K. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching,. Jossey-Bass.

    CAST (2018). Increase Mastery Oriented Feedback. UDL Guidelines. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

    Dougherty, S. (2016). Three keys to effective art room feedback. The Art of Education. Retrieved. https://theartofeducation.edu/2014/05/22/3-keys-to-effective-art-room-feedback/

    Jeffs, C., & Piera, Y. (2016) Focus on formative feedback for teaching development: A guide. Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning Guide Series, No. 3. Calgary, AB: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary. Retrieved rom http://www.ucalgary.ca/taylorinstitute/guides

    Pollock, V.L., Alden, S. Jones, C., Wilkinson, B. (2015). Open studios is the beginning of a conversation: Creating critical and reflective learners through innovative feedback and assessment in fine art. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education. 14(1): 39-56