Verbal Vs Written Feedback
We’ve talked about feedback quite a bit, from how to give it, what constructive feedback is and how to deliver that, we haven’t, however, gone through verbal and written feedback. So we’ll dip our toes into what they are and what makes your feedback effective. There are many types of feedback. As an assessor, you need to know about each type and how to use them with your learners. As not all feedback comes on a piece of paper! Sometimes, different learners will require other forms of feedback for them to understand how they can progress fully.
Feedback can be in the form of oral, written, informal, formal, descriptive, evaluative, peer and self-assessment. So, what is feedback?
What is feedback?
Feedback can take many forms. It can be in the form of a piece of work coming back with comments made by the assessor/teacher. It could be verbal feedback when in sessions/lessons or practical classes. Another learner may make peer assessment comments based on some criteria. The tutor may work through answers with the class. The learner could get verbal feedback during a one-to-one session or discussion. Or the assessor/tutor could discuss some problems that other learners may have encountered.
Feedback itself falls into two broad categories, verbal/oral and written.
What is Written feedback?
Written feedback is physical, it’s a record of guidance to help your learners improve and grow in their learning. It’s the most obvious form of feedback and it can come from a variety of sources. Normally, written feedback should include praise, a look at what they did well and what can be improved as well as some next steps to help them with improving.
This type of feedback can be informal or formal and have a variety of different formats, such as:
- Comments on marked work
- Meetings or one-on-one sessions
- Peer assessment
- Or within emails.
A great advantage of written feedback is that the learner can refer to it frequently, whereas with oral feedback the learner could forget what was mentioned/said unless they were taking notes. Written feedback is also a great way to leave a paper trail that documents a learner’s progress. Which is helpful to reference when tracking improvement and when working towards a goal. Many people frame feedback as areas of progress and challenges, rather than using them as an assessment that’s both positive and negative.
Effective written feedback needs to be timely and it also needs to include where the learner has met the learning criteria and if they have been successful.
What is Verbal feedback?
Oral/verbal feedback regularly includes physical spoken communication. Such as comments from the teacher, either to an individual, group or class. Verbal feedback is often more immediate than written. It’s usually given during or at the end of a task or activity. The impact of verbal feedback is higher than written and overall feedback.
Giving feedback verbally means that you can clarify and elaborate on what you mean instantly. Ensuring that any misconceptions aren’t made and that students can act upon the feedback given, straight away. Verbal feedback is just as important as written feedback. There needs to be a balance between them both.
What makes feedback effective?
Regardless of how you give your feedback, it needs to be effective. So how can you make it as effective as possible? Here are a few examples of how you can have more effective feedback.
Prioritise constructive feedback
Constructive feedback should provide an avenue for motivation, while also boosting productivity and engagement. This means you should mention the learner’s strengths and successes as well as things they need to improve and work upon. For this, you can use the praise sandwich!
Easy to understand
Feedback, whether verbal or written should be communicated in a way that is understandable for the learner. It should be concise and specific so that the learner knows immediately how to take action and improve.
To be effective, feedback must be consistent and ongoing. Keep your learners up to date with feedback on their performance and help keep them on track and with their goals. This allows the learner to change their performance to better achieve their goal.
Feedback is the most effective when it’s given immediately after activities. This makes the learner more likely to remember the feedback. If you wait too long before giving the feedback, the learner may find it more difficult to connect the feedback with the action they completed.
If you do all of these then you have some really effective feedback! We hope this has helped you with giving feedback in these forms. If you have any questions you can always give our team a call at 01205 805 155 and our assessor team would be happy to help.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.