Balanced Feedback

A key mechanism to convey expectations to students is relevant, timely, constructive, and balanced feedback. The two aspects to “balanced feedback” are praise vs. critique and content vs. grammar.

First, every submission will contain praiseworthy elements. Acknowledgment shows respect for the effort and encourages students. Other areas will require critique with precise
and specific feedback. For example:

  • Instead of “Writing style too informal” try “Excellent point, but in academic writing, we write in the third person. Avoid using personal pronouns such as I, we, or you.”
  • Instead of “No sources?” try “You presented your opinion well, however the instructions required the use of three scholarly sources to support your statements.”

Second, feedback should focus on grammar and content. Students who are good or excellent on one of these but lacking in the other need both reward and penalty. For example:

  • Instead of “Poor grammar” try “Academic writing requires formality. Avoid using contractions such as ‘can’t’.”
  • Instead of “Does not address assignment” try “Discuss how diabetes relates to hearing loss.”

Providing students with the proper balance between acknowledgment and critique is key to promoting instructor-student interaction and a good learning environment. Students who experience such feedback will acquire the necessary knowledge to be successful.

Adapted from Ronald C. Jones, associate faculty, Ashford University