Teaching Students How to Manage Feedback

Two Harvard law professors, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen divides feedback into three types:

  • Appreciation: to see, acknowledge, give credit, or thank
  • Coaching: to help the receiver fine-tune skills, tweak understanding, increase knowledge, improve, or to address the giver’s feelings or a sense of relationship
  • Evaluation: to score against expectations to shape decision-making

Below are a few examples to help students to have a better response towards feedbacks:

Asking students to reflect on the moments when they’ve been at their best and worst in response to feedback can help bridge that gap. For example, a successful basketball player in our class explained how well he responded to repeated corrections on the court but hated all coaching feedback on essays and class projects.

Analyzing the feedback categories and subsequent responses can lead to self-discovery and improved communication. Students might have a bit of trouble analyzing the kind of feedback they prefer, but with practice they will become more perceptive to what motivates them and more open to receiving different types of feedback. When meeting one-on-one with students consider asking them to identify the order of feedback types they prefer.

From peer review on essay drafts to group presentation feedback, we can ask students to contribute in each of the three categories of feedback. When students self-assess, our questions align to the three categories. Here we change the evaluation category slightly to emphasize decision-making based upon feedback.

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