Identifying and encouraging student teachers through formative feedback is the best way to prepare them to meet the demands of their careers and the future of education.
So, here are three research-backed tips for improving feedback to student teachers.
1. Make it visual
Making your feedback visual will help your students really understand how to improve.
In their analysis of using visual performance feedback to increase the frequency of positive feedback given by teachers, Chris Sweigart, Timothy Landrum, and Robert Pennington (2015) found that positive feedback given by study participants only increased after receiving a graph that depicted how often they gave positive feedback the day before.
Graphs, charts, and diagrams can help your student teachers visualize their current behaviors and make plans to improve.
2. Use video
Using video to give student teachers feedback is a must.
Like visual performance feedback, video helps students visualize their actual behavior. But in video, student teachers see it all in action.
In their piece, “Record, Replay, Reflect: Videotaped Lessons Accelerate Learning for Teachers and Coaches,” Jim Knight et al. (2012) give their four reasons for using video to help teachers improve.
- “Cameras help educators obtain an objective, accurate view of themselves at work” (19).
- “Video recordings propel educators forward into change” (19).
- “Video recordings are important for goal setting within coaching” (19).
- “Because video recorded on small cameras is easy to gather and of high quality, it provides a picture of reality that can be used to measure progress toward a goal” (19).
Video is objective, influential, important, and easy.
And it works. Teachers who are video recorded improve. Erika Pinter et al. (2015), in their article, “Effects of a Video-Feedback Intervention on Teachers’ Use of Praise,” note that “participants…felt the video feedback intervention was effective in increasing awareness of their own behavior” (465).
Identifying and encouraging student teachers through formative feedback is the best way to prepare them.
3. The sooner, the better
When giving feedback to student teachers, research shows that timing matters a lot. Mary Scheeler et al. indicate that “the only attribute that clearly demonstrates efficacy as a characteristic of effective feedback is immediacy. Thus, it seems obvious that supervisors should seek ways to provide feedback as close to the occurrence of teaching behavior as possible” (404).
By providing student teachers feedback as quickly as possible, you give them a chance to change quicker.
BONUS: Give students feedback on giving feedback
Making feedback visual, using video for feedback, keeping feedback immediate aren’t the only ways to improve feedback to your student teachers.
One of the best ways to help your student teachers is giving them feedback on giving feedback.
Here’s why it matters. In “Improving Teacher Feedback During Active Learning: Effects of a Professional Development Program,” Linda Van den Bergh et al. (2014) write, “Since feedback can be a very powerful tool for enhancing student learning, it is important that teachers are able to give their students qualitatively good feedback” (774).
Here’s one more from Sweigart et al.: “In a meta-analysis of 196 studies of feedback, Hattie and Timperley (2007) found feedback to be one of the most powerful practices teachers have available to maximize student achievement” (777).
So how do you help your student teachers improve their feedback?
Van den Bergh et al. write, “When teachers want to improve their feedback behavior, it is important that they set clear learning goals, communicate these goals to their students, and provide their students with feedback that explicitly relates their performance or understanding to these goals” (777).
Set goals, communicate goals, and relate to goals: the magic formula for feedback in the classroom.
Through visual aids, video, immediate feedback, and feedback training, you can help your student teachers better prepare for their future classrooms and students.
(And sometimes there’s a tool that will help you do all that. I have found that GoReact helps me give my students the feedback they need to learn and meet performance standards.)
Khachatryan, Edit. “Feedback on Teaching From Observations of Teaching: What Do Administrators Say and What Do Teachers Think About It?” NASSP Bulletin 99, no. 2 (2015): 164-188.
Knight, Jim, Barbara A. Bradley, Michael Hock, Thomas M. Skrtic, David Knight, Irma Brasseur-Hock, Jean Clark, Marilyn Ruggles, and Carol Hutton. “Record, Replay, Reflect: Videotaped Lessons Accelerate Learning for Teachers and Coaches.” Journal of Staff Development 33, no. 2 (2012): 18–23.
Pinter, Erika, Allison East, and Nicole Thrush. “Effects of a Video-Feedback Intervention on Teachers’ Use of Praise.” Education and Treatment of Children 38, no. 4 (2015): 451–472.
Scheeler, Mary, Kathleen McKinnon, and Jonathan Stout. “Effects of Immediate Feedback Delivered via Webcam and Bug-in-Ear Technology on Preservice Teacher Performance.” Teacher Education and Special Education 35, no. 1 (2012): 77–90.
Scheeler, Mary, Kathy Ruhl, and James McAfee. “Providing Performance Feedback to Teachers: A Review.” Teacher Education and Special Education 27, no. 4 (2004): 396–407.
Sweigart, Chris, Timothy Landrum, and Robert Pennington. “The Effects of Real-time Visual Performance Feedback on Teacher Feedback: A Preliminary Investigation.” Education and Treatment of Children 38, no. 4 (2015): 429–450.
Van den Bergh, Linda, Anje Ros, & Douwe Beijaard. “Improving Teacher Feedback During Active Learning: Effects of a Professional Development Program.” American Education Research Journal 51, no. 4 (2014): 772–809.