SE2R Feedback Forever Changes How Teachers, Students Evaluate Learning

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SE2R feedback
photo credit: Ken Whytock via photopin cc

One of the keys to a successful student-centered, Results Only Learning Environment is the use of narrative feedback over grades. Although feedback isn’t necessarily difficult to provide, a systematic approach can simplify the process.

A few years ago, when I was writing more feedback than ever before, I developed a system that I call the SE2R approach:

  • Summarize — Provide a one- or two-sentence statement of what was accomplished.
  • Explain — Give a detailed, objective explanation of what learning is demonstrated and/or what is missing, based on the activity’s guidelines.
  • Redirect — When learning outcomes are not demonstrated, redirect students to prior learning or to seek help from the teacher or a peer.
  • Resubmit — Ask students to resubmit activities, projects or assessments, after they’ve returned to prior lessons and models and made changes to the work. This way the teacher can re-evaluate for mastery learning.

SE2R feedback in action: Here is an example of SE2R feedback for a student who wrote what we call a reflection letter about a book she read. Notice that there is no point or letter grade attached; this is crucial to the success of narrative feedback. Studies indicate that if you add a measure of any kind to the feedback, students do not read it, making your effort a complete waste of time.


“You wrote a brief reflection on The Hunger Games, in which you mix plot details and your own personal connection.”


“The summary information demonstrates comprehension of plot elements including characterization and conflict — elements of fiction we recently learned. I think, however, that you misidentify the rising action. I like how you show empathy for Katniss and her plight, as she faces the prospect of killing Peeta (hint: what story element is this?). Elaborating on this part would improve your reflection.”


“Please review the presentation on rising action on our classroom web site linked here. Then, revise your reflection, reworking the part on rising action, in order to demonstrate understanding of the concept. Then, elaborate on your feelings about Katniss’ tough decision near the end of the story.


When you have finished, e-mail me or send me a message on our private message board, telling me that you’ve done so.”

What makes the SE2R approach integral to mastery learning is that it removes the kind of subjectivity present in grades and rubrics, while providing students with clear information about what they’ve accomplished and what they still need to do.

Most important, SE2R allows students to revisit activities and projects, so they can make corrections and resubmit for re-evaluation. This is what teaching and learning should look like but, sadly, is a part that is omitted in most traditional classrooms.

Are you using anything like SE2R? What advantages and problems do you see in this system of feedback?

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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