Feedback and Reflection

George Orwell didn’t like the word feedback.

Like it or not, the word has firmly entered the lexicon — and thank goodness.

Whatever you call it, feedback is one of the crucial components of learning. We need to know what worked, what didn’t, and how we might improve. Even bad feedback can be useful, and good feedback, well delivered, is a real gift.

A few barely-legible comments on a term paper are rarely useful feedback. (If a 30-page paper is too long to critique effectively, why is it 30 pages? Who does that serve?)

But even the best-delivered feedback must also be received openly and reflected upon honestly if it’s going to work.

Grades aren’t effective feedback, especially if they’re inflated. Getting a grade you can live with is one thing. Asking for good, growthful feedback is quite another.

We might be stuck with the word, but we can at least get better about the process.