Corrective Feedback can significantly increase student learning outcomes. As educators, we know that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. But how we respond to those errors can have a big impact on our students’ success. That’s why when provide corrective feedback is such a crucial tool for creating a positive, effective learning environment. Whether it’s the timing of our feedback, the way we deliver it, or the content itself, every aspect of such feedback can influence how our students learn and grow. So let’s harness this power to provide feedback to help our students thrive!
What is Corrective or Formative Feedback?
Corrective feedback is giving students information that will change their thinking or behavior in a way that will improve their learning experience. It is connected to performance feedback for example, positive feedback like “You did a great job reading that paragraph!” but it can also be highlighting the error, explaining,or prompting or giving the correct answer.
Effective Corrective Feedback
Educational Research is quite clear that giving corrective feedback is better than no feedback. But some types of feedback are more helpful than others. In a meta anaysis of studies done on corrective feedback by Guinness, K., Detrich, R., Keyworth, R. & States, J. (2020). Three characteristics of positive feedback are important for helping students.
Short Specific Feedback is the most helpful
If I have a student reading a decodable passage and they read the word “red” as “reed.” I usually point to the letter they misread and then give them another chance at it. If they still read it incorrectly. I will either say, “What is the other sound for that vowel?” If that doesn’t help then I might say, “If this a closed syllable the vowel cannot be long so it has to be ____________? Start with the least amount of intervention ie. the pointing and gradually move up the amount of explanation.
Have the student respond orally
Multiple studies also show how a student’s response to feedback also affects student learning. Studies show that if students respond orally to feedback in reading they make fewer errors in the future than if they just hear the correct word and don’t respond orally. In one study, (Heubusch & Lloyd, 1998) showed the greatest improvement when the student rereads the entire sentence with the error corrected.
This is a good practice simply for the sake of comprehension if the student merely rereads the mistaken word they often lose the context of the passage they are reading so having students reread the sentence is often a good practice.
Make the corrective or formative feedback as immediately as possible
Studies on the timing of feedback all show that the more quickly the student receives feedback the better the outcomes in the learning process than delayed feedback. However, reading comprehension tends to go down if the student is stopped too many times as they read. Swart, Nielen, and Sikkema–de Jong (2019)
So use your judgment. If a student makes a small error and the focus of the lesson is on comprehension it may be advantageous to wait until the student finishes the portion of reading and then go back and give the corrective feedback as soon as possible to facilitate the correct response. But in instances where the error is repeated or affects the ability to gain comprehension, it is better to stop and provide error correction.
Types of Reading Errors and How to Give Corrective Feedback
Guessing & Blending Errors with One Syllable Words
Common errors with struggling readers are often based on guesses and blending errors. If your student just guesses the wrong word based on the first letter and context, point to the whole word. Say “Let’s blend the whole word.” Then use continuous blending.Cover part of the word and slowly reveal the word and get the student to blend the word.
Or if this does not get the correct response because the student is struggling with vowels. Use onset-rime. “What is the word family? (the vowel and the following letters) “What is the beginning sound(s)? (The initial sound or blend) Blend the word. Giving feedback like this is essential to improving learning
Guessing & Blending Errors with Mutisyllable Words
If your students have trouble blending multi-syllable words. Teach them how to chunk them by using morphology (affixes and bases) or by syllable type. You can cover and reveal the word chunk by chunk or mark the word to reveal chunks and have the student read and blend the chunks to read the whole word.
Morphology is the best way to chunk words because the chunks are based on meaning and this helps in comprehension and vocabulary building. As soon as my decodable passage packs begin to cover multisyllable words. I begin to introduce morphology. This can be introduced as early as kindergarten or first grade with the suffixes (s, -ed, and -ing) If we require students to learn morphology early it helps in reducing errors with multisyllabic words.
Misreading based on lack of phonics knowledge
If students are reading decodable texts they should not be asked to practice with any graphemes (letters or letter combinations) that they have not been explicitly taught. If students are needing more practice with these graphemes just point to the problem area and have them try again.
If the error is a vowel team representing more than one sound then ask the student to “flex” the sound and see which sound makes sense. For example, if the student is reading “They played in the snow.” and struggles with the <ow> have them try the long o sound or the diphthong /ow/ sound to see which makes sense.
Give some wait time before jumping in
If they don’t remember a sound you can tell them but give them a chance to correct the incorrect answer themselves before you jump in and tell them the sound choices. Then have the student reread the sentence.
Sound Drills are Great for Fluency
Working on sound drills can help in reducing errors as long as we “flex” sounds as we practice. So as children get past just closed syllable words they need to be able to say the most common sounds for vowels and vowel teams quickly so they can recognize them in the context of words.
So when we do letter sound drills and a student gives only one sound for a vowel team such as only saying /ow/ for <ow> I say “OR” to prompt the other “flex” response. The keyword may help with this. (ie. snow plow)
Limit Teacher Talk
While corrective feedback is essential we don’t want to overwhelm our students so be careful with your feedback.
One, encourage your students to tackle hard words on their own. It might be tempting to jump in and provide the answer, but this robs them of the chance to build their skills and confidence.
You know your student. If they are becoming discouraged jump in but remember struggling readers often have a slower processing speed so don’t step on their thought process.
Two, avoid talking too much. Give your student the space to read and think for themselves.
Three, don’t give too much away. While it’s important to provide oral feedback, giving too many hints won’t help your students develop their ability to tackle unfamiliar words. Help students chunk words and use what you have taught them to “flex” their pronunciation of words.
And finally, use decodable texts that cover concepts that students have been taught but are still challenging enough to challenge them to grow in their decoding and comprehension skills.
Remember, effective corrective feedback allows meaningful progress! By providing targeted feedback and empowering your students to do their own problem-solving, you can help them build strong reading skills and a lifelong love of learning. If you have other great error correction suggestions please leave a comment below. I love to hear from other teachers and homeschool parents!