In your class discussion boards, you will be expected to provide feedback to your peers and engage in conversations and debates. Giving feedback to peers can feel a bit overwhelming, but constructive criticism and respectful conversations with peers can support the learning process. Below are some strategies and tips to help you to give useful and appropriate feedback.

Be Respectful

In all of your interactions with peers be sure to use a respectful and academic tone in your response, even when you disagree with their points. This means you want to use appropriate language, and avoid things like all caps in your responses.

Use Evidence

Focus on the topic and building your argument with evidence. Do not focus on the individual. Do not say “You’re wrong.” Instead, build your side of the argument by pulling in scholarly sources and statistics to back up your points. Remember that a debate is always won when strong evidence is used, not with personal attacks or name calling.

No Evidence

I think you’re completely wrong to choose this approach to the case. I think that it would be better for the teacher to just call the parents about this issue, rather than making a report to a local agency.

With Evidence

I have to respectfully disagree with your approach to this case. As outlined by Smith (2010), chatting with the parents about this issue, rather than making a report, could increase the risk of harm for the child.

Be Constructive

Constructive feedback should be specific and give peers examples or resources to help them improve their work. Avoid general comments like “good job” or “I enjoyed your post.” These types of comments will not help your peer improve. Instead, you could say something like this:

You provided some interesting statistics to back up your points on this topic, but the sources you used were 20 years old. To improve your argument, I would suggest using more timely sources so your statistics reflect the current state of this issue.

Use the “Sandwich” Approach

When asked to give constructive criticism to peers, it is always helpful to use the “sandwich” approach to feedback. In this approach, begin your feedback with something positive, share your criticism, and end your response with something positive or encouraging. Here is an example:

You provided a thorough discussion of the background and purpose of the Individual's with Disability Act (IDEA). I think your post could be strengthened by including some specific examples of how IDEA impacts the services students receive in the classroom. For instance, does IDEA impact learners differently based on age? You are really good at using many different sources to support your work; your post really helped me to better understand the background of IDEA.

Be Empathetic

Anytime you give feedback to a peer, try to think about how you would feel if you received the feedback you have written. Would you feel attacked or embarrassed? Would you find it useful in improving your work? Try to imagine how your response could be perceived by others, and make any changes that might be necessary.

Read and Revise

As with any kind of writing for your course, be sure that you carefully proofread your work. When giving someone else feedback, you want to be sure your work is free of writing errors and is clear and easy to understand.