The Most Important and Effective Thing Teachers Do for Adult Students
I recently had a discussion about student work with four friends. We discussed the importance of getting learners to do class work so they can learn by doing, see their progress, and improve their craft. We agreed that effective feedback is indispensable in the learning process.
Well most of us agreed, that is. Unexpectedly, one friend disagreed. He said that giving feedback to students is hard and overrated. After he said that, another person in our group sided with him.
But the rest of us held our ground.
My friend on the opposite side argued that feedback can crush student motivation and make students feel terrible, especially when practicing new skills.
The discussion went on for another 90 minutes. In the end, three of us concluded that the most important thing teachers can do for learners is to give them effective feedback.
Now you might be asking, “What’s the difference between feedback and effective feedback?”
What effective feedback looks like
Like my friend who doesn’t like giving feedback said, feedback can be vague and even cruel. But effective feedback motivates learners. It is like fuel that keeps their learning-engine running.
Here’s what makes feedback effective:
1. Timely: It’s immediate and fresh. It is given soon after the work has been completed.
2. Corrective: It points to specific issues that need fixing. Therefore, it suggests how to improve the work.
3. Criterion-based: It tells learners how they are doing as it relates to a specific standards, goal, or rubric they are supposed to meet.
4. Student-facilitated: It allows learners to have a voice in the process. They are given a chance to articulate their specific needs or weaknesses and request appropriate help.
Specifically speaking, if learners get no feedback on their assignments, their coming to class and the work they do really mean nothing—it’s like flying a plane with no radar and no guidance from the control tower. No wonder some learners give up and quit altogether!
Since you care for adult students, please help move this conversation forward by sharing the post with your adult-ed and workforce colleagues. Thanks for being part of it!