While Shah’s advice might be applied to any number of areas in a teacher or student’s day, it has particular relevance to the design of effective feedback activities. Writing projects typically get sequenced like this:
The majority of class time is spent developing a functional draft before writers get any feedback. This results in a substantial cognitive load when students give and receive feedback:
- reviewers must respond to a full text, most likely using a full rubric;
- writers must process a large amount of feedback, potentially covering the full rubric.
The cognitive load on both sides has substantial impact on the likelihood that feedback will be helpful or that it will be utilized.
If we consider Shah’s advice to “do fewer things, better,” we can think about sequences with smaller bits:
By breaking writing into smaller bits, we can focus students attention on practicing a few valuable things, substantially increasing the likelihood that reviewers will give helpful, criteria-driven feedback and that writers will have the time and inclination to use that feedback when revising.
We could take that advice even further with smaller, more focused reviews:
Multiple reviews focus even more narrowly on criteria, keeping reviewers reading for specific features and moves and keeping writers aimed at those critical revisions.
Eli Review is designed specifically to do fewer things, better. Learn more about reducing cognitive load, designing sequences, or crafting specific prompts in our professional development module on designing effective reviews.