What constitutes good feedback?

I know that I have to work hard on not taking criticism so personally. Yet, like scaling Mt. Everest, a task easier said than dunn (RIP Prodigy, if you want some good grading music (not at school) then try some Mobb Deep).

Prodigy, rapper, and originator of the Dunn language. (Photo Credit: CNN)

So as I sat grading students first real test on my couch as I watched Penn State execute easily one of the worst 4th down play calls I’ve ever seen, I wondered what is good feedback. (The juxtaposition of those sentences and its irony is not lost on me).

Run the dang ball coach! (Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)

“Great Job!” or “Excellent!” just don’t seem to cut it. I know as a student I engage with feedback probably on an unhealthy level. Not much keeps me up at night, I can fall asleep just about anywhere in under five minutes but if I’m obsessing over an evaluation the minutes can turn into hours. These students are kids, so I don’t want to overwhelm them with so much feedback they can’t process it fully yet I really want to avoid cookie-cutter statements of praise or not-praise (for lack of a better word).

Still being new to grading and giving written feedback I know that I’ve probably spent way too much time going through these short-answer questions and but I left them pretty open-ended which means that students had a variety of ways to skin these six question-cats.

Perhaps that’s the lesson to take away from this; narrow focus on facts. What an awful lesson.

Now I get to find out which of my students will turn on me after they see their grades on the test. How many of my students will stay up late tonight wondering why I graded them the way I did? Who will brush it off and not care? Can’t wait to find out.


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