Teaching: The importance of feedback

When parents take their children to school, they not only expect them to do well regarding what is shared in the classroom, but in other areas too, like sports, and everything that an all-round learner exudes.

Educators point out that teacher feedback to students and parents is one of the ways to build learners and help them do well in school. 

Jane Nakaayi, the head of the department of languages at Riviera High School, says when it comes to feedback or reporting, teachers normally report to parents and school administrators.

The report is based on assignments given at the beginning and end of term, and classwork in between. However, how teachers report the progress matters.

She says whatever is written or said after an assignment or specific activity to students is feedback, and how it is delivered is important.

Teachers should give their learners feedback after assignments. Net photo.

“As a teacher, after marking an assignment or commenting on the progression of a student in general, ask yourself if the learner understands your remarks,” she says.

The question, she says, is how should teachers report or give feedback to learners? She says it is best to note the learner’s achievement and weakness then jointly figure out how best they can improve. She says that this helps the learner know their strength, weakness and where to put in more effort.

Why is it important?

John Nzayisenga, Director at Good Harvest School in Kigali, says for effective learning, giving learners feedback on how they have performed in class is not only important to them, but also an essential part of effective learning.

He notes that it’s through this that students get to understand what they are learning, which gives them clear guidance on how to improve their learning in general.

Also, teachers’ feedback motivates a learner to work harder and achieve their goals in life. In fact, he says, it’s also used for placement purposes.

When admitting learners, he says schools asses them and give feedback on whether they qualify to join the school or not.

He says all students should be given feedback, regardless of how they performed.

Nelson Mukasa, the executive director of Children and Youth Sports Organisation in Rwanda, says feedback is useful for promotion services.

He explains that this encourages them to work hard in usual tests so that they continue improving each time.

When it comes to teachers, Ronald Wandira, head of humanity department at Riviera High school and year leader—advanced level—at Rwanda Education Board (REB), says it helps them to know the coverage on whether they are in line with the syllabus analysis given at the time available.

As a teacher, it also helps them to find out if learners understand the methods used, so that they can keep with it or make changes.

On the other hand, he says teachers’ feedback aids the entire school in planning placement at the national level, in case the school emerges as the best in the country.

“This is an added advantage not only to the school but to the parents and students as well,” he says.

How it should be done

Feedback is done in many ways, but it’s normally after an activity.

There is a continuous assessment on which teachers intend to give feedback on the progress of the learner so that they can see whether they are improving or declining.

When this is done, Jackline Iribagiza, a counsellor and matron at Martyrs Secondary School Remera, Kigali, says it’s easier to find the best solutions to such situations that would have been given to them.

At this point, she says, teachers reach out to students during normal lessons on their performance in assignments, exercise or homework, among others.

Wandira notes that students can also be given feedback after a summative assessment, which is done at the end of the term or year, for a child to be promoted to another class.

For example, the one done at the end of the term, he says, feedback is meant to encourage learners so that they can work harder to attain their goals.

The feedback should not be given in terms of marks or ranking, Wandira says.

“Ranking the whole class sometimes is not good as not all learners will be on the same page. This means it can demotivate some students from working hard after knowing that they are the last in a class,” he says.

The best option, however, is to use grades where students are placed in different grades instead of ranking. This means that the students will be in groups and encouraged to do better.

“When feedback is given, it’s also important to hear from the learner on how they feel and what they would like, which gives a teacher a clear picture on the way forward,” he adds.

Negative impact

If feedback is not given at all, experts believe that the whole process of learning will lack meaning.

Iribagiza says when this happens, there will be disorder in the entire learning system because people will work ‘without vision or mission’.

“Everyone will work towards an aimless achievement and it will also distort endurance,” says Wandira.

Their views

Alphonse Uworwabayeho, Lecturer of mathematics - University of Rwanda
Not all parents got the chance to go to school yet teachers give homework to learners expecting parents to help out, especially when it comes to children at a low level. It’s important for teachers to put this in mind when they give out assignments and find ways to help the students in case they don’t get help from their parents.

Alice Ishimwe, Parent
I think it’s ideal for schools to ensure that they have meetings with each and every student and their parents to discuss their progress. This will not only help the teacher, but parents as well on how they can help learners.

Diana Nawatti, Head teacher
It’s important to teach students about different ways of communicating whenever they are experiencing difficulties as far as academic is concerned. This will help them to seek help at the right time and from the right person as well.

Faustin Mutabazi, Parent
School shouldn’t be a place to dump a child and forget about everything concerning them when it comes to education. Parents and schools should work hand-in-hand to ensure they bring out the best in learners.




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