What is the relationship between feedback and school culture?

Photo by  Erda Estremera  on  Unsplash

School leaders are responsible for nurturing culture.

That culture ought to help each learner (adult and child) to grow into the best possible version of herself.

No surprise, then, that Daniel Coyle's The Culture Code is a must-read for all school leaders.

In school settings, teacher feedback unpins a critical dimension of the learning culture. Coyle notes that connection in his citation of researchers from Yale, Stanford, and Columbia:

Researchers discovered that one particular form of feedback boosted student effort and performance so immensely that they deemed it "magical feedback." Students who received it chose to revise their papers far more often than students who did not, and their performance improved significantly. The feedback was not complicated. In fact, it consisted of one simple phrase:

"I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them."

That's it. Just nineteen words. None of these words contain any information on how to improve. Yet they are powerful because they deliver a burst of belonging cues. Actually, when you look more closely at the sentence, it contains three separate cues:

  1. You are part of this group.
  2. This group is special; we have high standards here.
  3. I believe you can reach those standards.

These signals provide a clear message that lights up the unconscious brain: Here is a safe place to give effort. [Emphasis in the original.]

For Coyle, feedback is an opportunity to activate "belonging cues," which bring out the best in people.

When you deliver feedback to learners, what kind of culture you are nurturing?


Thank you for reading this post from Basecamp's blog, Ed:Future. Do you know someone who would find the Ed:Future blog worthwhile reading? Please let them know that they can subscribe here.