"Feedback is the food of champions" -- Peter Dhu

How to give feedback that's thoughtful, generous, and helpful is a huge challenge but worth every effort. It there's one thing that the teen writers collective that I work with has taught me -- it's that good feedback is much appreciated and what brings serious writers returning.

In a recent MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called "The History of Art for Artists, Animators, and Gamers," art historian Jeannene Przyblyski,the critique process was a vital part of the course. I found Przyblyski's guiding questions to be really helpful as I prepared myself to provide feedback for other participants. These are her three stages:

Stage 1: Read, view, reflect on the piece. Take a few moments to give it your total focus and let it begin to seep in.
Then describe what it is you see.

Stage 2: Begin to analyze your response to the piece:

  • What is one thing about the submission that immediately caught your attention?
  • What is one thing about the submission that took you a little longer to discover?
  • What are three questions you would ask this student about their submission?

Stage 3: Make a connection between the piece and some other work/resource/reference that you think relevant and may be of interest to the participant. Provide a link or enough specificity so that the participant can find this resource.
You could also add any additional comments that you think might be helpful.

And, perhaps, a fourth stage might be helpful as we consider critical thinking and critical reflection:
Stage 4: What assumptions might you making as you critique this piece? Do they make sense in this context? Consider checking the accuracy of your assumptions by trying to assume multiple viewpoints. This stage and questions are inspired by Brookfield's work on critical thinking.

Ron Berger is an educator well-known for his work with the critique process for students-of-all-ages. His mantra to make feedback "specific, helpful, and kind" could certainly be made easier by working through these four stages.