Giving feedback is an art. In the past, the term ‘feedback’ was associated with negativity and it scared everyone as the term was equated with postmortem or finding faults or warning someone against something. Examples of such feedback are: “You are not doing what you should be doing! Your behaviour is not acceptable! If you continue to behave like this, you will have to quit the organization.” This type of negative feedback has negative impact on those who receive it.
Positive feedback is associated with reinforcement, appreciation encouragement, personal development, etc. The purpose of giving feedback is to appreciate someone for some good work done, encourage them to continue to do so and give constructive suggestions to help them blossom. If a person is said to have excellent communication skills, they are expected to be good at giving and receiving feedback.
Giving positive feedback means using positive language and creating conducive environment for personal growth. The following are tips for giving positive feedback.
‒ Be fair in your comments.
‒ Use positive words and phrases.
‒ Use gentle and polite body language.
‒ Sound honest and make the person to whom you give feedback listen to you.
‒ Establish and maintain good eye contact while giving your feedback.
‒ Make the person believe that you are interested in their growth.
‒ Start with the positive.
‒ State the negative in a positive manner.
‒ Be generous in your appreciation and stingy in your criticism.
‒ Show you have concern for the person who receives your feedback.
‒ Suggest points for growth in a gentle manner.
Here are some examples of positive feedback:
— Congratulations! It was a wonderful presentation. I liked the anecdotes.
—Great performance! You have clarity of thought and clarity of expression. You were quite audible too. I liked your voice modulation. Keep it up!
—Wonderful! Your presentation was very effective.
Feedback is given not with the intention of hurting or discouraging the person who receives it. It is given with the objective of helping the person become aware of the negative aspects or limitations of something, eg. oral presentation, and make efforts to improve on it. Below I am going to give some of these examples:
— The structure of your presentation was not good.
—You were not audible.
—Your voice modulation was not good.
The above are typical negative feedback. These statements can be rephrased as below in order to make them positive feedback:
— Your presentation would have been (more) effective if you had explained the structure of your presentation.
—We would have followed your presentation better if you had been more audible.
—Your presentation was good. You started well. I would like to suggest a few points to make your presentation more effective. You should improve your voice modulation.
The shortest word in the English language that contains the letters abcdef is feedback. Let’s excel in it.
During the phase, students process new information and start to use it in different activities. It is important, therefore, that the teacher provide plenty of forms of support to encourage students to participate in these activities. This helps create a positive attitude and safe environment in the classroom that is conducive to learning. One important form of support is the feedback provided by the teacher. Feedback can come in the form of praise or in a more constructive form. In this section we will discuss how feedback is beneficial to students and how it should be used.
Offering students feedback serves several purposes. One purpose is to encourage them; a teacher naturally wants to keep the motivation level high in the classroom, and this can be accomplished by acknowledging student accomplishment. Teachers have a responsibility to foster students’ sense of self-efficacy and offering positive feedback does this.
However, feedback is not always given solely to praise accomplishments; teachers must also offer constructive feedback in order to improve student performance. Attention must be paid to the word constructive, meaning feedback that is not praise should not be given unless is serves a purpose to improve student performance. Students should be aware of why a teacher is giving them feedback; they should not feel criticized or attacked, rather supported in that the teacher wants them to improve. Teachers should aim to create a sense of awareness in their students, to help them make an honest appraisal of their strengths, weaknesses and progress.
There can be a question how should feedback be given. This model provides teachers with a simple mnemonic device to help them remember how to provide feedback: PPPF;
Precise — directed at a specific aspect
Personalized — directed towards a particular person
Positive — intended to help learning, boost self-esteem and build confidence and motivation
For example, a teacher could say “Good job” which would be an example of positive feedback. To make it more personalized, the teacher could say “Good job, Aziz”. Finally, to make it precise, the teacher could say “Good job Aziz with that difficult pronunciation”.
Feedback should be given in a timely manner, but at the same time a teacher must be careful not to interrupt continuing interaction in the language. The goal is to promote as much language use as possible, so the feedback can be held till a later time. Some teachers make use of anecdotal records to accurately record feedback. Remember, feedback, whether positive or constructive, should always be given to help the student whether by encouraging or correcting. Teachers must know their students and be aware of which type of feedback works best for each student.
Positive feedback, on the one hand, is regarded as important and crucial for adult second language acquisition (Krashen: 1977, 1994) whereas, on the other, some other researches have considered it to be insufficient for second language learning. Apart from its importance and sufficiency, positive feedback plays a role in language learning and it refers to those elements and type of evidence given to learners which tell them what is possible in the target language, as opposed to negative feedback which is related to the type of information given to learners that tell them what is not possible in the target language, being the former more descriptive; whereas the latter is more prescriptive as it tells the learner what she or he is not allowed to say because the target language structure does not allow it.
- Smith, S. (1997). The genre of the end comment: Conventions in teacher responses to student writing. College Composition and Communication, 48, 249–268.
- Peterson, S. (2003). Peer influences on students’ revisions of their narrative writing. L-1 Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 30, 239–272.
- Krashen, 1994. The influence of teacher commentary on student revision. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 315–339.
- Nicol, D.J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self- regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31, 199–218.