Winners, Losers…Learners

“The most powerful single influence enhancing achievement is feedback.”  -John Hattie

From our kindergarten years through our professional lives, assessments and evaluations stand as focal guideposts for determining our growth, as students and as employees.  Serving as an integral player in establishing our level of success from the earliest of ages through to retirement.  Unfortunately, those same assessment and evaluation processes marked for enhancing our learning and growth, often serve little more than to create winners and losers.  In the classroom…and in the workplace.  To overcome this requires a new mindset, one that moves us away from the casting of winners and losers…to creating learners.  And it hinges on one of the strongest influencers of learning…feedback.

From the Board room to the classroom, feedback is a resource that we don’t dispense very effectively or receive very warmly.  Unfortunately, the thought of receiving dollops of feedback from any teacher or supervisor often makes us cringe…the word resonates towards the critical.  Our inability to administer it effectively has clouded its effectiveness to influence, even though its very essence should be focused on learning, towards growth.  So often we hear feedback served up as…”I say this with the best of intentions” or “that was really great, but”…causing the listener to recoil with apprehension of what is to come next.

Both children and adults understand that quality feedback is a necessity for ongoing learning.  Most of us yearn for authentic feedback to validate what we are doing or to provide direction to lead us down a more successful path.  When provided correctly, feedback can provide a continuum for growth…for creating personal goals to increase one’s learning and capacity.  According to John Hattie…“setting personal bests had high positive relationships to educational aspirations, enjoyment of school, participation in class and persistence in task.”

So as we consider the variety of assessments and evaluations that we utilize and incorporate in our classrooms and our workplaces…we need to be cognizant of the power of feedback.  The power of feedback to serve in the development of growth mindsets and ongoing learning…or to serve as the catalyst for sorting out the winners from the losers.

And it starts the first day we step foot in a school…


One thought on “Winners, Losers…Learners

  1. Hi David, I completely agree. Feedback is very powerful and is vital to helping students move forward with their learning. What I notice is that many teachers struggle to provide useful feedback. At a basic level, effective feedback must indicate ‘what’ and ‘how’ to improve. And, it must not be accompanied by a number. Thanks for the post. I’m definitely going to share it with others!


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