What every teacher should know about feedback and correction

What is Feedback?

Feedback is information that you give to learners about their performance in a learning task, usually to help them gain confidence and do better. While such feedback is generally verbal, your body language can also provide clues about the performance. The primary purposes of feedback are:

teaching and learning skills
  • To motivate learners when they are doing well 
  • To help them understand what their problems are and how they can improve where they are not doing so well

For TESSOL teachers, some examples of feedback in language teaching might be: 

  • Yes, right! A very good answer! 
  • An arched eyebrow in response to a mistake
  • Comments you write in the margin of an essay
  • Do you want to try again? to a student who may not have provided a correct or full answer to an exercise

Feedback can focus on many things, not merely the learners’ language skills. TESOL teachers should also focus on (a) ideas in the student’s work (b) his/her attitude towards learning (c) his/her behaviour and (d) their language progress. We can give feedback to the whole class, small groups, or individual learners.

Importance of Constructive Feedback 

Your feedback must be constructive and not destructive. 

Remember these:

  1. Feedback enables students to learn more about themselves and the effect their behaviour has on others.
  2. Constructive feedback increases self-awareness, offers guidance, and encourages development, so it is vital to learn how to give feedback constructively. Constructive feedback is not only giving positive feedback (praise). Negative feedback given constructively and skilfully can be very useful.
  3. Destructive feedback, which is negative feedback given in an unskilled way, generally leaves the recipient feeling sad or depressed. With unskilled feedback, students don’t learn anything they can build on.