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EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK

Giving a camper feedback let’s the camper know they are noticed, helps them identify and realize learning and builds their sense for belonging and therefore their happiness. In an online environment, feedback can be an important part of keeping campers motivated and engaged.

WHY:

 

Debating is a feedback-rich activity.  Almost everything said / done in a debate receives some sort of response; either immediately in the round or at the end.  Most of the feedback is verbal. At the end of the week, we give a comment card with written feedback as well; albeit most of this is in summary form, and celebrates the growth witnessed.  Throughout the week, the trajectory of skills development is largely as a result of the practice - feedback - practice again loop; and thus a balance of constructive, helpful and specific feedback, combined with encouragement - is essential. 

 

 

HOW:

TIP # 1 ACTIONABLE ADVICE

Actionable improvement comments: Mentioning something the camper could do better is not the same as giving them a goal to work towards and a way to work towards it. Making advice and feedback actionable means that the camper clearly hears what they can do, hears trust in you that they can do it and it externalizes the advice from their sense of who they are. 

 

Compare these two possible comments: 

“You did not make a meaningful opening argument.” 

versus 

“You can make a more effective opening argument by summarizing your three strongest points.” 

The first comment could diminish the campers sense of belonging or ability. The second demonstrates to them that this is simply technique and here is what they can do about it.

TIP # 2 FEEDBACK SANDWICH

When sharing feedback with a camper, try sharing 3 things:

  1. Begin with a comment on something they did well, 

  2. Mention something they could improve on (make this actionable),

  3. Finish with a comment on something else they did well.

TIP # 3  PEER FEEDBACK:

One of the most effective and memorable pieces of advice for a camper is what they hear from their own peers. However, campers need to be directed in how to give feedback in a manner that encourages the camper and builds trust. A few key points about peer feedback:

  1. It is most effective once some trust is built, after some activities are shared throughout the week that allow campers to get to know each other.

  2. It is one thing to say “no put downs”, but most campers will need direction in how to “appreciate” each other. Taking a moment to suggest the kinds of things they should look for in their fellow debaters to “appreciate” and how to express it is key.

  3. Specifically direct some peer feedback reminding them to make it actionable and appreciative, for example: “Can I have someone tell us what Simon just did well?” or “What is something that Simon might do in the next debate that would make his argument even stronger?” 

  4. Present sentence stem exercise can allow … I like how they did ______________, 

TIP # 4 KEEP IT POSITIVE:

Debate is considered to be an exercise in higher order thinking, where analysis and critical thinking are developed and practiced. Some campers can live in this intellectual space quite well - and want the kind of thorough feedback that is common at debate competitions. Because of their age, however - it is very important to be encouraging. In a majority of instances, Debate Camp is a young person’s first experience with debate and many will decide here if they feel equipped to try it again and / or further their interest in it during the school year. Debate Camp is meant very much to ensure campers feel safe and supported in trying debate a few times while the skills consolidate. Keeping a positive spin on your feedback; i.e. 2 positive remarks sandwiching 1 constructive point is standard for some of our youngest campers. Older and more experienced campers are eager for more constructive feedback - - but they too, would benefit from deliberate encouragement at times.

COMMENT CARDS

Though this is a “report card” of sorts, think of it much more as a kind note to make sure the camper knows how much they are appreciated, that you see their gifts and abilities and enjoyed their presence at camp that week. Their connection to you as their table group leader is one that is not to be underestimated. 

 

SAMPLE COMMENT CARD I

Simon has impressed me this week by his abililty to think creatively of points that most people would miss and impact them efficiently through his analysis. Simons speeches always have detailed examples to support his analysis, an example of this was in our debate on books vs. movies when Simon was on team books. Despite being personally agaisnt his position he did a great job anticipating the opponents points and refuting them by explaining that the educational value of books outweighs the environmental damage associated with their production. It was a pleasure to have Simon in my group this week and I really hope to see him back at Debate Camp in the Open group again soon!

 

SAMPLE COMMENT CARD II

Adelyn was an absolute pleasure to have at camp. I especially appreciated her organization, emphasis on a point’s impact, and humour in her speeches. Her convincing analysis was present even on the first day of camp when we were debating about banning single use plastics. Adelyn focused on how the resolution would impact the most vulnerable actors in the debate; low income families - - because of the financial necessity of single use plastics. She also excelled in refutation, often highlighting when the opposing side’s point wasn’t mutually exclusive to their side.  Adelyn is a strong debater and I hope to see her return to Debate Camp!

TIPS:

  • ​Be personal and specific, use a camper’s name

  • Don’t give too much feedback - too much and interest & self esteem can be lost quickly

  • Make it actionable - and specific

  • Sandwich suggestions between compliments

  • Feedback to identify success should be at least twice as often as suggestions for improvement

  • Remember the age of the camper in relation to the type of feedback you give.

SCENARIO:

ONLINE & IN-PERSON:  You have had a couple days of camp already, your group knows each other fairly well and is starting to get more chatty. There remains a very shy person in your group.  After they take part in a debate, you want to provide a chance for peer feedback.  What might you say to your group to help direct the feedback in a way that would be meaningful to the camper, and still allow the camper to feel safe, appreciated and perhaps encourage them to continue to open up and take chances?

VIDEO REVIEW:

FEEDBACK PART I

FEEDBACK PART II

FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

FOR DISCUSSION:

What are some common mistakes that are made when giving feedback?

What is one way you can integrate feedback into your sessions?

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