Characteristics of Constructive Peer Feedback

Constructive Feedback . . .

–Is descriptive rather than evaluative. Avoiding evaluative language reduces the need for the individual to respond defensively.

–Is specific rather than general.

–Is focused on behavior rather than the person. It is important to refer to what a person does than to what we think or imagine s/he is.

–Concerns what is said and done, or how it is said and done, not why. The why involves assumptions regarding motive that may not be accurate.

–Is directed toward changeable

–Takes into account the needs of both the receiver and giver of feedback.

–Is well-timed. In general, feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after the given behavior.

–Involves sharing of information, rather than giving advice. By sharing information, we leave a person free to change, in accordance with personal goals and needs.

–Considers the amount of information the receiver can use rather than the amount we would like to give. To overload a person with feedback is to reduce the possibility that the information will be used effectively.

Excerpted from William H. Bergquist and Steven R. Phillips, A Handbook for Faculty Development (Washington, DC: The Council for the Advancement of Small Colleges, 1975), pp. 223-225.