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close this bookTeacher Training: a Reference Manual (Peace Corps, 1986, 176 p.)
close this folderChapter 3 collaboration
close this folderCollaboration skills
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View the documentOrganization
View the documentCommunication
View the documentFeedback/ critiquing
View the documentWorking in groups
View the documentLeadership
View the documentNetworking

Feedback/ critiquing

The processing aspect of listening can be redefined as feedback and is such an important skill that it warrants special consideration here. Briefly, feedback is a communication to a person (or group) which gives that person information about how he/she affects others. In order to be effective and fair, feedback must be objective, well-timed and validated. To that end, feedback must be:

° Descriptive rather than evaluative. By describing one's own reaction, it leaves the individual free to use it or to use it as he/she sees fit. By avoiding evaluative language, it reduces the need for the individual to react defensively.

° Specific rather than general. To be told that one is "dominating" will probably not be as useful as to be told that "just now when we were deciding the issue you did not listen to what others said and I felt forced to accept your arguments or face attack from you."

° Take into account the needs of both the receiver and giver of feedback. Feedback can be destructive when it serves only our own needs and fails to consider the needs of the person on the receiving end.

° Directed toward behavior which the receiver can do something about. Frustration is only increased when a person is reminded of some shortcoming over which he/she has no control.

° Solicited rather than imposed. Feedback is most useful when the receiver himself has formulated the kind of question which those observing him/her can answer.

° Well-timed. In general, feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after the given behavior, depending on the person's readiness to hear it, support available from others, etc.

° Checked to insure clear communication. One way of doing this is to have the receiver try to rephrase the feedback he/she has received to see if it corresponds to what the sender had in mind.

Just as feedback skills can facilitate constructive interpersonal communication, so can critiquing skills foster constructive evaluation of A lesson. In addition to the feedback skills mentioned above, a good critiquer should:

° Let the person being critiqued give a self-critique first. More often than not, he/she will already know their areas of strength and weakness. By letting him/her self-critique first, egos go unbruised and much of your job is already done.

° Start with something positive. It is much easier and more encouraging to build on a strength than to eliminate a weakness. Starting with something positive also decreases the tendency toward defensiveness.

° Keep negative critiques (or criticism) to a minimum . Most people can handle one or two critiques; any more than that is not only discouraging but difficult to act on. Change comes slowly.

° Accompany each criticism with one or two suggestions for improvement. If the critiquer can find blame but cannot recommend something better, the person being critiqued is unfairly faced with two difficult tasks: abandoning an old technique and creating a better one.

° Each criticism should be accompanied by at least one example. It is not very helpful if the critiquer says, "At one point, your visual aid was inappropriate" if he/she cannot remember what it was.

° If possible, end on a positive note. The person being critiqued will make the greatest progress if he/she believes it is possible. It is therefore important not to demoralize, but to encourage.


1. What do you see as the biggest difference between giving feedback and critiquing?

2. What do you feel are your greatest areas of strength in giving feedback and critiquing? Your greatest areas of weakness ?