Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning: it aims at identifying strengths and weaknesses and providing clear steps for improvement. That is why it should be educative in nature.
What process can you use to improve your feedback and deliver it with confidence? Make sure your comments on the work of your colleagues are relevant and constructive by following these simple steps:
- KEEP IT SHORT BUT EFFECTIVE
Your words matter, so try to keep your feedback short, meaningful and to the point. The use of passive voice is suggested as it is key to giving feedback that is helpful without being personal (e.g. “there are few examples offered” rather than “you offer few examples”)
- FOCUS ON THE STRENGTHS
You can start off by focusing on the strengths of the work in question – what you like about it – to lessen the sting of criticism and to stimulate the reward centres in the brain, leaving the recipient open to taking a new direction.
- SPOT AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Avoid vague and general feedback and try to find the areas where the work could be better executed based on the guidelines of the activity.
- BE SPECIFIC AND PROVIDE PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS
Share your ideas about how these areas could be improved and explain why these ideas could lead to improved results. Your colleague will be better able to respond to direction when it is clear and concrete.
- GIVE THANKS AND END ON A POSITIVE NOTE
Make sure to end the discussion on a positive note to show confidence in the abilities of your peers to improve their work. Follow it up with discussing how their strengths can be used to that end.
We have available a PDF version of the above steps, which you can save and print. It also includes an example of what a constructive comment can look like!