Teenagers care a lot about what their peers think of them. Constructive feedback given in front of others, even if it is well-intended, can be read as a public attack on them and their ability. This can lead to students developing a fear of failure and putting up a front.
This is similar to the technique he calls the whisper correction – the feedback technically takes place in public, but the pitch and tone of voice is designed to be heard only by the individual receiving it.
The more detailed and specific your feedback is, the better, to remove any ambiguity. Rather than “good work”, say “The way you did X was really good.”
Praising effort instead of intelligence increases intrinsic motivation and provides a template for students to follow next time.
In this study, 86% of children who had been praised for their natural ability asked for information about how their peers did on the same task. Only 23% of children who had been praised for effort asked for this type of feedback, with the vast majority of them asking for feedback about how they could do better.
But you should aim for a combination of open and closed questions in your feedback, along with statements. Closed statements are useful for conveying key information and keeping the conversation focused.
Any feedback that doesn’t lead to a change in behaviour change is redundant – there must be a point to it. What do you want them to do differently? What are they going to do after the conversation to improve? The more detailed and specific the action points, the better.
So often mathematics instruction has focused on the “right” answer as opposed to the process of getting an answer. As a result, many educators and most students have a lack of understanding of how mistakes in math should be viewed and how mistakes can actually enhance the brain’s development.
Mathematics is a cultural phenomenon: a set of ideas, connections, and relationships that we can use to make sense of the world. At its core, mathematics is about patterns.