Teacher feedback is the essential and probably the critical element of student learning. We frequently refer to teacher feedback as the effective instrument of instructional change. However, why do we always forget that teacher feedback is integrally linked to student motivation? In reality, teacher feedback is an effective tool that drives student motivation. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may substantially improve when teachers do not simply score and grade students, but provide students with objective feedback and inform them about the progress they make during the learning process.
At this point, it is important to look at teacher feedback through a different prism: we will distance ourselves from the traditional instructional paradigm, but will use the “learning paradigm, when after gathering information on the students’ learning process, the teacher reflects and gives his (her) views on what he (she) has observed back to the students” (Kwong, 2001). From the viewpoint of extrinsic motivation, teacher feedback serves an effective external factor that motivates students to learn.
From the viewpoint of intrinsic motivation, the inner student desire to learn is increased when student needs are recognized, evaluated, and satisfied through teacher feedback. At least three different types of teacher feedback can be used to enhance student motivation in learning; these include informative feedback, grades, and task involvement. The concept of task involvement id described as “the concern to develop or demonstrate (primarily to oneself) high ability.
It follows that when we are task-involved, we will attempt to learn if we see an opportunity to do so and, when doing so, will feel we are doing what we want to do” (Salili & Maehr, 1986). Task-involvement implies active and constant interaction between the teacher and student, where students feel responsibility for the learning outcomes, and where this responsibility increases student intrinsic motivation. If properly utilized, grades may also turn into effective force driving student motivation.
Very often, grading is referred to as the instrument that negatively impacts students’ desire to learn (Salili & Maehr, 1986); that is why grading should be combined with informative teacher feedback. It is important that teachers do not use grades as a reward, but rather promote grades as the instrument reflecting student progress. Informative feedback may also be used separately, to inform students about their learning achievements, to inform students about additional learning opportunities and incentives, and to guarantee that students are able to use these opportunities and incentives to improve their achievements in learning.
The concept of teacher feedback should be re-considered through a new “non-instructional prism”. The time has come to realize that objective teacher feedback combined with recognition and respect to students is a cost-effective factor driving student motivation at all stages of the learning process. Teacher feedback should be positive and objective. Teacher feedback should form the basis of continuous strategy, where students and teachers interact on equal terms, and all students have equal chances to succeed in learning.