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Offer "Wise" Feedback

A page within CATL Instructor's Guide to Inclusive Excellence


How we give feedback to students can send loud messages about our belief in their ability to learn.  Monitoring our tone is one obvious example.  Ensuring that our feedback is usable is another strategy.  Another strategy that works particularly with students of color is called "Wise" Feedback.

Summary of Research

For African American and Native American students in particular, research indicates that by the time they reach college, these students are likely to dismiss feedback from teachers altogether. Some students have consistently been told that they "just aren't good" at something, a message that is sometimes driven by social stereotypes. Other students have consistently received high praise from well-meaning teachers for work the student already knew was not good work perhaps in an effort to boost self-esteem or to counter social stereotypes by sending a counter-message. The result of either of these approaches is that students doubt the usefulness of the feedback. Instructors can address this problem by using what researchers call "wise feedback" -- using a clear, external standard, and prefacing your feedback with a growth mindset message.


Yeager, D., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Apfel, N., Brzustoski, P., Master, A., . . . Gauthier, Isabel. (2014). Breaking the Cycle of Mistrust: Wise Interventions to Provide Critical Feedback Across the Racial Divide. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(2), 804-824.

Hoskins, D. (2020, updated). Offer "Wise" Feedback. In Instructor's Guide to Inclusive Excellence. University of Wisconsin at La Crosse Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from