The smallest amount of sarcasm or any form of derisiveness can intimidate and demoralize students. This, obviously, is not conducive to learning or to building a productive and engaging classroom environment. Providing constructive feedback well is essential for becoming an effective teacher and valued colleague.
Even in cases when instructors aren’t trying to be hard on students, they may overwhelm them by pointing out every single thing that was done wrong or could be improved. To provide helpful feedback, keep in mind that the point is to help students learn and improve, not simply to identify errors and shortcomings.
Whether you’re writing comments on a paper, responding to a student’s contribution to a discussion, or assessing an oral presentation, the following tips may help you critique your students in ways that are useful, rather than punitive.
- Let students know what they are doing right, as well as what needs improvement
- Prioritize your comments
- Help students figure out how to improve their work
- When giving feedback orally, use a neutral, relaxed, pleasant tone of voice
If you develop your ability to provide feedback constructively, you’ll be a more effective teacher. You’ll also be better able to help your students achieve the instructional goals of your courses.