Day 14 (of 184) descriptive feedback
The good, the bad, the ugly. That Clint Eastwood title still runs through my head when I talk, explain, and use descriptive feedback.
The good – talking descriptive feedback with all members is the learning community. Being part of a feedback loop where students can continuously improve their work and make changes ‘on the fly’ rather than after something is already ‘done’.
The bad – putting it into practice requires changes in common classroom practice. This can be difficult – especially when some students know that if they do ‘good enough’ they can ‘earn’ a sticker. Or a checkmark. Or a score /10. But with descriptive feedback, sometimes (often) good enough, isn’t.
The ugly – descriptive feedback gets messy in a good way! Once we see the benefits to using descriptive feedback it causes great change – in part because when I’m coaching football I can’t tell my lineman that his block was a 7/10 and he’s averaging 73%. The numbers don’t matter – the descriptions of what is working well and what one (maybe two) things they new to focus on improving makes the activity meaningful and relevant.
I haven’t put a ‘score’ on student work in years. With new classes there is always a bit of awkwardness but the understanding that descriptive feedback is immediate and connects directly to the learning that is occurring always makes much more of an impact than a number assigned a day/week after an assignment had been turned in. The use of descriptive feedback is one of ‘those doors’ that once opened, can’t be closed.