What Does Effective Feedback Look Like?

Here are some examples of what effective feedback is and what it is not.

Specific Feedback vs Non-Specific Feedback


"You did a good job explaining the reasons why the evidence you chose was relevant. For example, you clearly described the pet banks and why they were more effective for the middle class. This shows good understanding of the historical topic." 
WHY WE LOVE IT: The feedback says exactly what the student did well (supporting evidence), where they did it (in the paragraph discussing pet banks), and an added bonus - why it was effective (demonstrates content mastery)

"Make sure to tie everything back to the thesis. While your points on the National Bank are good, the example of the Trail of Tears does not seem relevant to the thesis related to the common man."
WHY WE LOVE IT: Again, this feedback directly references the student work. The Graider indicates the specific area for student growth (tying everything back to the thesis) and where in the work the student was off track (Trail of Tears example).


"You didn’t fully address the prompt in your thesis."
WHAT NEEDS WORK: What exactly is missing in the thesis?


"Some of your organization and sentence structure is awkward."
WHAT NEEDS WORK: Which parts? Where?


"Great conclusion!"
WHAT NEEDS WORK: Empty praise. The student does not know specifically what they did well or what about the conclusion was strong.

Actionable Feedback vs Non-Actionable Feedback


"This essay lacks some analysis. Your points are good, but you need to fully flesh out how the points contribute to your thesis. Explain why the changes made during this time period were successful and why the policies before were not."
WHY WE LOVE IT: The student knows what is missing in their writing (detailed analysis) and exactly what they need to do to revise their work and make it stronger.

"Organization is key to a high scoring essay. Next time, be sure to clearly distinguish an introductory/thesis paragraph, body paragraphs, and a separate conclusion/synthesis paragraph, with a focus on clear and strong transition sentences."
WHY WE LOVE IT: This feedback shows the student exactly what they need to focus on in future assignments to improve their writing (organization).

"Good start on the draft! Now just try to clean it up and shorten it."
WHAT NEEDS WORK: If the student knew how to “clean up the work” they would have done it already. While it seems directive, this feedback doesn’t give the student a good idea of next steps.

"You’ve made great progress since your last essay. Keep up the great work!"
WHAT NEEDS WORK: What has the student progressed on? What else should they do?

"Your tone is, at times, informal. Go further with your historical analysis. Also, you need more from your thesis to fully address the prompt."
WHAT NEEDS WORK: All of this feedback is lacking detail and direction. Where is the tone informal? Where is the analysis lacking? What is lacking in the thesis. The student needs more information so they can build plan of action for revisions.