As my students have been handing in their essay revisions, I have come to the realization that I am improving in giving formative feedback. When I notice that students have not made critical changes in their revisions, I discover that my earlier statements feedback statements are not specific enough such as for descriptive essay comments like “Refocus this to be descriptive. Describe things in detail”. These comments are still too vague for the students to know how to improve.
I am learning to be more precise and to include examples. A much better formative feedback would have been “How can you make this more descriptive? You might consider showing many of the senses (sight, sounds, smells, tastes, texture) so that the reader can experience being there. For example, you may use expressions like “a blistering hot day”, “my heart beating like a drum solo” and “her eyes danced with the deep blue color of the ocean” so that the scene comes alive for the reader. What senses will you include? (The examples were modified from the student’s own writing.)
In my more recent formative feedback for writing, I limit my feedback to two to three critical issues and provide very specific examples. Then when I get back the students’ revisions, I can see that they have integrated those critical changes into their papers. The changes in the students’ papers depend on my formative feedback. If I am vague, then they make vague changes.
What type formative feedback do you give?