We all know the importance of giving feedback and correcting student errors, but have you ever been properly trained on how to do so? I can honestly say that after 16 years of teaching, I am still working on how to properly correct students when they make mistakes. I recently read a great article with many strategies in how to properly correct students when they aren’t getting the correct answers, give incomplete answers, or are not able to respond at all.
Students learn by doing, I think we all understand that. However, if we constantly let our students repeat errors, they may be learning how to perform skills incorrectly. Students will learn better by “doing with feedback.” Feedback should be qualitative, focusing on the accuracy of the student’s response, and should occur within a few seconds or minutes of a student’s response. If this does not occur, students will waste valuable time practicing errors. Practicing errors will lead to the need for reteaching and relearning. You the teacher can ensure students receive feedback after each response by using the following instructional strategies:
· Collaborative learning-use a peer tutoring system or small group activities in which peers provide feedback to one another after each response. I use this method quite often. My students are in groups of either 3 or 4, and are grouped according to their ability level. I have one high, one average, and one low student per group.
· Learning centers-use instructional materials and computer software that provides feedback after each response.
· Self-correction-Teach students to self-score their work and self-correct any errors before proceeding to the next problem or item.
· Homework-Avoid assigning homework or independent seatwork activities that do not contain self-scoring and self-correcting components until the student can perform the target skill with some accuracy.
Too many times, error correction is carried out ineffectively. This most often is due to lack of time available to make ample corrections. Errors can provide good opportunities for teaching and learning, however. Research shows that error correction will be more effective and efficient when it includes these four characteristics.
· Now instead of later-Errors should be corrected before going to the next item or problem.
· Direct-Error correction is direct when the feedback focuses on the target skill. Instead of offering incomplete or indirect feedback, tell, show, and/or guide the student through the correct response or problem.
· Brief-The teacher should rapidly tell, show, and/or demonstrate the correct response.
· Ends with the Student Making the Correct Response-Results show that feedback is more effective when the student who erred is given the opportunity to give a corrected response.
In closing, I think it’s definitely important for teachers to evaluate their error correction procedures. What procedures are you using, and will they help students respond correctly in the future? How efficient are your error correction procedures? Ultimately, the question of how error correction should be conducted lies in your students’ performance. You have to decide which strategies work best for you and your students.