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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Tips for Giving Goal-Referenced Feedback

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 15, 2015

There are many points of view about feedback. At Thinking Collaborative, we emphasize non-judgmental feedback and avoid advice giving except when a request for consultation is made. For feedback to be useful, it should be linked to a goal defined by the receiver. As a coach or colleague being asked to provide feedback, time must be spent clarifying and defining an area for personal growth. When a teacher asks for feedback on classroom transitions, the conversation should include questions than invite specificity. For example, “What specific goals do you have for your transitions? When your transitions are working well, what are some things you might be seeing? What factors do you want to attend to in having effective transitions?”

When the teacher is able to describe what s/he hopes to achieve, then the observer can ask for what specific data might be collected, “So how would you like me to record data about your transitions?”

If this clarification process does not occur, it is easy to slip into judgments and/or to provide information that is not relevant to the goals of the teacher. For instance, I might say, “Your kids were really quiet when they moved to the new learning centers.” Quiet may not have been the goal of the teacher, but instead the teacher was hoping for shorter times between activities. Taking the time to find the specific goals of the learner are critical to giving feedback that promotes formative assessment.

How do you become certain you are giving goal-referenced feedback? What are some of the kinds of questions you ask to clarify and specify?

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