5 Steps To Deeper Learning #2: Feedback
This is the 2nd post in the Deeper Learning Series. The intention is to examine if our students are truly learning and to discuss some tips and strategies that lead to deeper learning, which is learning that involves making and correcting mistakes, timely feedback, and student meta-analysis (metacognitive analysis of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and thinking processes during learning). Learning that can be applied. Learning that lasts.
In the previous post, 5 Steps To Deeper Learning #1: Let Them Struggle, I discussed the importance of information recall in learning. Most students reread information or just copy from notes to worksheets and other assignments. But to form better understanding and lasting memories (stronger connections between pieces of information in the brain), they should be practicing from memory throughout the learning process. Of course, they are bound to make mistakes, which are beneficial to learning when followed with feedback, correction, and meta-analysis.
To Achieve Deeper Learning, Help Students Get Instant Feedback...
Feedback has become somewhat of an educational buzzword, but...
Feedback just makes sense. Feedback is important. Students want to know how they did. They might not always want to measure their learning, but most want to know their grade on this quiz or that test. But while grades are a form of feedback, they are unfortunately of little use in determining how much our students have learned. There are too many variables that go into test writing, taking, and interpretation.
So how do we get and give feedback that is of utmost importance? How do we do it so that feedback becomes a vehicle for communicating to both the teacher and the student what the letter or the number attached to an assessment does not? How do we figure out what our students have or have not learned and what they do or do not understand?
You get it from the horse’s mouth...
When you structure classroom activities to get students recalling information without any aides, you get instant feedback on how they understand the concepts right now. This is best done in small collaborative groups you can check in with as the activity is going on. There is sure to be variance in memory and understanding of the group members, but the biggest misconceptions and misunderstandings are sure to surface. At the very least, students who are struggling with the concepts get feedback from peers as the group discusses the information.
It is important for students to have some product after the recall activity. Whether you posed a question for groups to answer or you gave them a problem to solve, it is crucial students record their initial solution. This is important for three reasons. First, you want to take a look and give feedback and/or a give a tip, prompt, pose a question. Second, you want students to correct it, which may involve adding information, clarification, or redoing. Third, you want students to have it available to compare with the corrected answer, so they can analyze what went right or wrong, how it was right or wrong, and why it was right or wrong.
There are several ways for students to get feedback. Once they produce their product, you can look at it and have a discussion with students. Another way is to have students check their notes. Additionally, you can ask students to go online and use a search engine to check if their correct.
But whatever you do remember that for feedback to be most effective, it has to be timely; immediate if possible. Ideally, you want your students to do their recall activity, get feedback, correct, and analyze in one sitting. The more processing happens, the better the understanding and memory formation. As this is heavy mental lifting, plan a short brain/stretch break in the middle of class to allow for muscles to relax and get increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
Of course, recall and feedback have to be followed by the opportunity to correct mistakes and metacognition for deeper learning to occur, but this is what the next two posts are about. Until then and if you’re in the thick of winter, stay warm. And if you’re in a warm place? I hate you. How’s that for instant feedback? :-)
You Have The Power To Change The World. Use It Often.
My book "Crush School" is currently 40% off on Amazon Kindle until January 15th. It is a book on deeper learning. In it, I provide effective strategies to help teachers teach more implicitly and to help students learn more effectively. Click on the links below for more details.