Sunday, February 12, 2012

Meaningful Washback

I am currently taking a class on assessment. After my long-term subbing position I had quite a few questions on meaningful, valid assessments and was determined to learn how to better evaluate and provide feedback to my students. While we've discussed washback briefly, we haven't discussed the best methods yet. Well today I came across a post on the Blog of Proximal Development on my Google Reader that dealt with this issue succinctly and positively.

Photo link
The Power of Feedback  outlines a great way to provide positive, learning-centered feedback on student work. We've all experienced the returned essays with overwhelming red marks: we searched for the grade, threw the paper in our folders, and completely ignored the teacher's comments. Or perhaps we've been on the other side, spending hours upon hours correcting student work. Don't we love to see our hours thrown into the back of the folder-or worse, the garbage can-as students rush out of class? Well this post offers an answer to our dilemma.

Konrad Glogowski points out that feedback should respond to what the student did correctly, not incorrectly. When we point out all their mistakes they aren't as motivated to change things. Sometimes they don't know how! Instead, Glogowski offers this advice:

"As teachers, we must help our students answer three questions:
  1. Where am I going?
  2. How am I doing?
  3. What actions do I need to take next?"
Feedback is about the process, helping out students get to a great end result on their own, and encouraging them on the way. He offers a great example in his post of what this can look like. These three questions should be found in the feedback; however, "it’s important to keep in mind that our role here is to guide, not to answer these questions for our students." 

I really appreciate seeing this in action. It just makes sense. I can totally understand why a student would be more apt to respond to feedback that guided and encouraged them versus circling all their mistakes. I think this would still take some time to do, but perhaps it won't take as much time as the previous attempt and the results will be worth it. I am willing to try it. Effective feedback can be empowering and truly transformative in the way our students learn. 


Glogowski, K. The Power of Feedback. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from

1 comment:

Maryanne said...

Glogowski's post has provided a good example to how his thinking on washback has changed. His suggestions for feedback seem right on target. One on one conferencing is a good way to provide the type of feedback he suggests but time constraints don't always allow teachers to do that.