Feedback for students

In HCE, feedback is an integral part of students’ learning. It is vital that Mentors, Facilitators and Tutors not only reflect with the student on their progress but also liaise with each other so as to give the student consistent feedback.

Human-Centred feedback for students has four essential features.

A. It exemplifies the idea that students are responsible for their own learning.

B. It embodies the principle that such learning consists in the student’s holistic development.

C. It requires that the student understands the relevant standards well. The process of providing feedback is one of helping the student understand what counts as good (and better) and why. What counts as improvement depends in part on the student’s own goals and such improvement must be holistic; it cannot be merely academic in the normal sense of the word. It will include the development of character, disposition and other personal qualities.

D. It is non-judgemental. Feedback ought to be loving, generous and usually gentle, because such qualities are fundamental for the student to improve. Feedback should be framed in terms that encourage development in relation to one’s own past (relative to a set of standards or criteria), rather than in competition or comparison with others. It should embody and require critical self-reflection.

It may be helpful to think of such feedback as being addressed at four levels.

(1) Feedback pertaining to specific projects or tasks. Such feedback should be timely, focusing on giving very practical advice in terms of the strengths of the student’s work and suggestions for ways of improving its quality. This feedback might be immediate, taking place during class, or be given in  written comments. Non-judgemental and more informative than a grade, this can help the student improve the quality of her work.

(2) Feedback on learning processes and approaches. This feedback is based on an overview of the student’s learning journey over a period of time, and their ability to take responsibility for their learning experience. The emphasis of such feedback is on enhancing the student’s abilities and approaches to understanding.

(3) Feedback on commitment and confidence. Such feedback is connected to how learning supports the cultivation of personal qualities and caring dispositions and, therefore, will most likely be provided by the Mentor.

(4) Feedback on overall development as a person. Once again, such advice is often provided by a Mentor who knows the student well, including her interests, priorities and personal trajectories.

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