Positive Feedback

December 19, 2010   

I had a good reaction from a student last week and again this week. One of my numeracy students gave me the distinct impression that he hated maths especially any maths that involved numerical calculations. Before you point it out I'll happily list the types of maths that don't involve numerical calculations. Anyway, he was reaching the end of the course having sat (and passed) most of the assessments and we were reviewing one topic before one of the final assessments. He'd done a few questions on it and I made the mistake of rather bluntly telling him they were all wrong. I said we'd go through the work and see where the problem was. He missed a little bit of working out and I pointed this out but reassured him that everything else was perfect (it was).

He had another shot at the questions and got all but one. We reviewed this one again and I could see him getting a little upset about it. It turned out that he'd just not put the final sum into the calculator correctly everything else was fine. Having shown him this he seemed happy with himself. He later sat and passed the assessment with no problem.

The next week he came back for the last topic. He was willing to prepare for the assessment in exactly the way I advised and again with some positive feedback he fixed a problem he was having with a part of the topic. He'd always said he was rubbish at maths but by this point was agreeing that he had no problems with some of the questions, just with a bit that didn't involve calculations, just comparisons. After we put it in terms he preferred he worked hard and got through the assessment.

Having finished the course he thanked me my help, one of the few to do so. He'd gone from hating maths to passing the course with little problem. Hopefully he can continue to gain confidence and its a lesson to me to give more positive feedback. It can really help pupils.