Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Opinion: Professor providing feedback is essential

If students are expected to improve in their academic work, they need feedback on assignments from instructors.
Image by Sarah Mai

There are many ways to help students improve their academic performance. However, arguably, the most effective way is to provide them with feedback. Yes, feedback.

Once the student turns in their work, they know they cannot do anything to improve the grade they will receive for that assignment until it’s graded. The teacher grades the assignment, enters the grade and the students find out what they received on that assignment. A simple process, isn’t it? Well, not necessarily.

Here’s a scenario. Let’s say one student received a C and another got an A on the same assignment. In any case, both would surely want to know why they got what they received. The one who got an A would surely like to read some compliments about their efforts, and the one who got a C would most likely prefer to know what mistakes they made. Why? Because they don’t want to repeat the same mistake on subsequent assignments. Well, to their dismay, they figured out their teacher doesn’t give feedback or write down comments on the back page of assignments. This is when students start freaking out and feeling overly stressed. I’m certainly not trying to criticize teachers, mind you, just pointing out what happens sometimes.

Now, let’s imagine the same scenario happened, but the teacher did give some feedback and explained why they graded it in this way. This will make an enormous difference because the student will be able to understand their mistakes, and not just that, but they will also be able to improve and most certainly get better grades in the future. It is most productive to a student’s learning when they are provided with an explanation as to what is accurate and inaccurate about their work.

Same scenarios, but providing feedback made the difference. How could one improve if one doesn’t know where one went wrong? I mean, what I might think of as a great sentence, you might regard as bad, and vice versa. Different perspectives and points of view can be a barrier between teachers and students if they don’t communicate, and providing feedback is an excellent way of communicating.

As always, I like to give some anecdotes when I talk about things (I happen to be a great storyteller if given a chance to talk about everything and nothing simultaneously). Two years ago (when I was a high school junior), I took some classes at a local community college for PSEO credits, but since it was during the pandemic, classes were mostly online. Among the classes I took was a literature class (one for the fall semester and another for the spring). Almost the entire time, I kept getting some points off for “MLA” reasons (for every class), but none of the instructors ever explained why or in what way my citations were wrong. The citations looked correct to me, and I kept wondering why none of those instructors pointed the mistake out to me because I kept getting the same points off for every single assignment that needed to be written in MLA. Almost all the assignments were required to be in MLA in all classes, without exception.

Then, in my online spring semester English class, the instructor left almost in the middle of the semester, so we got a new instructor. If you ask me, it was the greatest change that happened to me that semester because we ended up getting not just a kind, understanding instructor but one that really understood the value of providing feedback on students’ writings. That instructor was known for being diligent and very well known for her constructive, helpful and straightforward feedback.

To my surprise and joy, when she graded my essay, she provided individual video feedback. Unbelievably amazing! As expected, I got some points off for my MLA citation, but she thoroughly explained it in the video and walked me through the correct way of citing in MLA. The good news is that ever since that day, I haven’t gotten any points off for MLA reasons whatsoever! Why? Because an instructor was kind and generous enough with her time to explain my mistake to me and go the extra mile to show me how to fix it.

Feedback matters, especially when the student makes a mistake. I, for one, greatly appreciate feedback because I use it as a guide for future assignments. On the other hand, returning assignments without any feedback might ensure the student will repeat the same mistake again, especially those who are too shy to go to instructors’ office hours.

Amina Hasan is a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *