A-Z of Ethical Communication in Education: F is for Feedback

Feedback, that process of reporting back to someone about our impressions and evaluations concerning something they have said or done is beneficial in all areas of life and is essential in education.  

Feedback to staff and students in education is most effective when certain ethical approaches are followed.  Feedback works well when it is: 

* Honest – hiding information about what has been achieved is unhelpful and can be destructive in the long run.  Honesty is tempered by including the other elements in an ethical approach to giving feedback
  * Constructive – making it clear how the task can be improved rather than only focusing on what has not been achieved
  * Positive – including what has been done well whilst addressing areas for improvement in positive and compassionate language can maintain the self-esteem and self-confidence of the person receiving the feedback if there are areas for improvement.  A tried and tested example of this approach is the “Feedback Sandwich Model” consisting of ‘praise – criticism/ correction – praise.’      * Objective – addressing the achievement of the task rather than focusing on the person makes feedback inoffensive, less challenging and more acceptable.  Being objective involves basing the feedback on clear observation within set, agreed parameters
  * Interactive – providing opportunities for discussion during the feedback will help the recipient to check their understanding, seek clarification and give explanations.  Ultimately, they should be more engaged with the process leading to better results.
  * Considered – planning feedback means that the person receiving it is aware when it is to happen, what it will involve, why they are receiving it and what actions are expected on both sides

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