Sunday, September 8, 2019

Feedback Strategies

For this week's feedback assignment, I read two articles: "Be a Mirror" by Gravity Goldberg and "How to Provide Great Feedback When You're Not in Charge" from Farnam Street.

In Goldberg's article, she talks about the importance of "being a mirror," which means that our feedback should offer a reflection of someone's work in a nonjudgmental way. She references Carol Dweck quite a bit, and talks about how this can go hand in hand with the "growth mindset" idea of Dweck's. This article seems to be directly mainly at teachers who are helping their students with reading, but the feedback ideas are applicable beyond that: be specific, focus on what the person is doing (rather than what they're not doing), focus on the process, make sure it can transfer (make sure your feedback will make sense to them in a broader sense for improving future work as well, rather than only a particular detail of this assignment), and keep yourself out of the feedback. The last point on that list was the most interesting to me. She says instead of saying "I like how you..." or "I think you..." etc., teachers should say something that doesn't involve themselves. Her idea is that this will avoid reinforcing the idea for students that they should be seeking to please adults, rather than the idea that they should be seeking to better themselves/learn.

In the article on Farnam Street, it talks about the types of feedback. It lists three: appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Appreciation, according to the article, is essentially expressing our approval for whatever work we are giving feedback on. Coaching, on the other hand, is offering specific advice about how to improve something about the work, and evaluation is ranking the work against similar works by others or against a set of standards. Each of the types is important, but we must be strategic about when and where we use each type. Appreciation is perhaps the easiest to give, and the article recommends using it as a motivational tool. Everyone likes to hear what they're doing well, because it makes them feel good about themselves. Coaching should be used to help someone improve specific points of their work - it is important to let them know what they did well and what needs work, and to be very specific about it. According to the article, evaluation should be used infrequently and is often not productive, but is sometimes necessary. This, I don't totally agree with. I have often found that a healthy competitive spirit can be highly effective in motivating people to improve themselves, and that can't be done without a method by which to compare themselves. For example, let's say I enter a writing contest and place poorly. For me, this gives me a sense of where I am compared to others who are at a similar level as I am, and not only motivates me to improve, but also gives me examples of people whom I can look up to as I work to better myself. Finally, the article recommends putting yourself up to receive feedback first if you're in a leadership position to set a good example.

"Feedback Group Communication" by Tumisu at Pixabay

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