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How to tell students they use the wrong terminology?

Sometimes students give a presentation and use the wrong/awkward terminology. When and how to correct them? If plenary it makes them feel insecure. When on the assessment document, the other students did not hear which were the incorrect terms.

2 juni 2020


  1. creme010

    Feedback is key
    How to deal with incorrect/awkward terminology in student presentations? How to correct students in a positive way? These questions come up regularly in teacher trainer courses. We don’t want to make students feel awkward. At the same time, feedback is a powerful tool for learning (e.g., Hattie, 2019).

    Organising feedback: Who, how and when

    As a teacher don’t shy away from giving feedback. Organize it in a good way. Decide beforehand who gives feedback, students or teacher, when, and on what.

    Feedback is most useful when given timely (soon after the performance). However, if you don’t want feedback to be linked to the individual students, you might save up your form-related comments (terminology, use of sources, referencing, etc.) and address them separately after the last presentation. Of course, this only works if there are multiple presentations in your class.
    If you have group presentations (multiple presenters), then maybe all feedback can be given right away, since other students don’t exactly know who used which terms incorrectly.

    I have seen teachers successfully appoint one or two students as form or language ‘jury’. Those students only pay attention to form aspects in the presentation. They give feedback on form-related things (e.g., presentation fluency, clarity, referencing) in a balanced way: things that went well, things that could be more effective.

    Always instruct students to give balanced feedback. Hattie points out that feedback includes telling students what they have done well (positive reinforcement) and what they need to do to improve, as well as what are the assessment criteria so that they know what to aim for. Beside feedback on task, Hattie stresses the importance of feedback on the processes students have used to complete the task (ability to self-regulate).

    Finally and maybe most importantly: phrase critical feedback in terms of what could be improved/what could be more effective, rather than in terms of incorrect or wrong.

    Should you like to discuss this topic further or should you want to get advice on your teaching situation, feel free to email us for a professional consult.

    Extra information
    – Hattie, J., and S. Clarke (2019). Visible Learning Feedback. New York, NY: Routledge.
    – Discussion of factors Hattie found to impact learning https://www.teacherstoolbox.co.uk/effect-sizes/
    Teaching in Higher Education (BKO)
    Course Effective Teaching in English]

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