How To Give Constructive Feedback To Students

If you're a teacher or a mentor, you'll probably find yourself wondering at some point how to give constructive feedback to students. If so, let this list of tips be your guide.

  1. Get to know your students. It's impossible to give constructive feedback if you don't know where your students are coming from, or what they are trying to achieve. Taking a little time to learn about your students' pasts and goals will bring you a long way towards helping them to succeed.
  2. Know that everyone is different. One blanket piece of feedback won't be constructive for every student. In addition to the fact that all students will be at different levels, people also absorb and understand information in different ways. Tailor your feedback individually for each student.
  3. Be approachable. If you put yourself up on a pedestal where no one can touch you, students won't feel comfortable approaching you if they have questions about something you've said. Let students know with your actions and your words that you don't mind if they ask questions.
  4. Make the feedback a conversation, not a decree. In order to give constructive feedback to students, it's essential that they don't feel like they're forever doomed living with a specific description of their work. You want your students to improve, and you should let them know that. For example, instead of saying "You did poorly on the last essay," you could say something like "What do you say we go over some things that could improve your next essay?" It also helps to phrase your feedback in a positive way, as suggestions for improvement instead of rebuttals for bad performance.
  5. Be open to receiving feedback yourself. Feedback is best if it's a two way street. Try giving the students a chance to give constructive feedback on some of the things you've done or said. Just be prepared to hear some things that might come as a surprise to you. You have to be willing to accept possibly negative feedback. 
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