Feedback is information that helps the learner span the gap towards their performance and their objective; it is informative rather than judgmental or evaluative.
Constructive feedback is specific, considerate, and does not attribute poor performance to internal causes. Destructive feedback violates these principles and can reduce recipients' confidence, self-set goals and in impair recipient performance.
Reference: Robert A. Baron, 1988, Negative effects of destructive criticism: impact on conflict, self-efficacy, and task performance.
Principles of good feedback
- Helps clarify what good performance is
- Facilitate the development of self-assessment (reflection)
- Delivers high-quality information to the recipient
- Encourages dialogue
- Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance
Tips for giving feedback
- be given as an ally working towards common goals
- be well-timed and expected (be prompt, but don't take the person by surprise)
- be based on first-hand data
- be regulated in quantity and limited to behaviors that are remediable
- be phrased in descriptive nonevaluative language
- deal with specific performances, not generalizations
- offer subjective data, labeled as such
- deal with decisions and actions, rather than assumed intentions or interpretations
- avoid personality traits and instead focus on performance; focus on the decision not the decision-maker
- avoid the "perils of praise" by focusing on performance rather than the person (e.g., "you performed this procedure correctly" versus "you are terrific"
Tips for receiving feedback
- seek feedback at times that are good for you
- coach the giver on how to give good feedback (see above) if need be
- be specific in what you are asking for
- listen carefully
- if the feedback is difficult to process; return to it later
- evaluate the source and intention of the feedback
- remember, that feedback is about reaching your goals, not you as a person
- do not permit yourself to be abused, overly defensive, or overly-apologetic
- consider how you will best make use of the feedback towards achieving your goals