A student’s guide to giving feedback

At Peergrade we believe in feedback karma, give good feedback and good feedback will be returned to you. Good feedback can take a little effort and practice but with this guide, you’ll be on your way to great feedback in no time!

1. Be Specific

Pointing to specifics in your peers assignment will not only help you to write better feedback but it will give your peer an example of what needs improvement. Generic statements such as ‘this was great’ or ‘good job’ lack any thought let alone provide any insight for your peer.

Reviewing someone’s work and providing them with possible solutions to approaching the topic will motivate them to further their learning experience.

2. Be Constructive and Actionable

When giving feedback, you want to provide clear direction through actionable and text-specific comments instead. You should make sure that you comment on both what is important and what the person receiving the feedback is able to control and fix.

If you are able to point to a specific area of strength or weakness you are already on the path to being constructive. Next, you need to be able to explain why you found that example confusing. You can explain how you solved the problem to show how they could have done it differently or you can simply explain why you are having trouble understanding it. Anyway, you do it, it is important to elaborate and explain your reasoning. In the long run, this will also help you retain course material and improve your critical thinking skills.

3. Use appropriate tone and language

Giving feedback is a balancing act between being clear and constructive without being harsh. One of the biggest assets of giving peer feedback is that it’s coming from your peer! Don’t try to be the teacher and use fancy academic language but use clear and simple language when giving feedback, you’ll make your point your much quicker and your peer will also understand the feedback more easily.

While being clear and concise it is also important to maintain a polite and positive tone. Speaking harshly and using statements such as “This is absolutely terrible! Have you even put any effort into this?” will not have any beneficial value to you or the person receiving your feedback. Instead point out the good stuff and use “I” statements to buffer harsher statements; such as “I don’t quite understand, do you mean…”

4. Look At Things From Different Angles

Still struggling with how to provide feedback? De Bono suggests using the metaphor of colored hats to think from different perspectives, focusing on one perspective, or one hat, at a time. For example, put on the yellow hat and think only about the good things in the peers work. Putting on the green will help you focus on creativity and look for new and different ways your peer can approach the assignment. While the black hat will encourage careful evaluation, taking a hard look at the potential weaknesses to an argument. If you’re having trouble giving feedback try this approach it might help you view the assignment in a new way.

The Takeaway

Valuable feedback doesn’t have to be rare. Being actionable, specific and positive will help you create feedback that can take you and your peer’s learning to the next level. Make sure to share this article so your peers will return the favor with equally brilliant feedback.

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