Giving Friendly Feedback in the Design Process

Giving Friendly Feedback in the Design Process

In honor of National STEM Day, we are sharing this mini lesson as a way to support students during the design process.

Allowing students the opportunity to give and receive feedback from others enables them to assume greater ownership of their work and provides students with a valuable skill for lifelong learning. During any kind of activity or project, friendly feedback can be given. This is especially true for design projects, where students can help peers improve their ideas, designs, and models.

Guiding and modeling effective feedback and allowing time for students to practice giving different types of feedback set the stage for more productive classroom dialogue. Here is an activity to do with students that allows them to practice friendly feedback before doing it with a real project.

  1. Explain to students that friendly feedback means “offering helpful comments about someone’s work without being critical of the person or the work.” Explain that the most useful feedback is kind, specific, and clear. Discuss with students that the purpose of providing feedback is to help others improve an idea, draft, or design in a meaningful and encouraging way. Invite students to share experiences they’ve had either giving or receiving feedback. Encourage them to connect types of feedback with how they impacted their work or performance.
  2. Explain to students that they may provide three different types of peer feedback: clarifying, warm, and cool. Review the sample question stems below together and discuss the differences between each type of feedback.


Can you explain _______________________________ ?

Why did you choose to ________________________ ?

How did you _________________________________ ?

Tell me more about _________________________ .

Warm Feedback

I like _______ because ___________________________ .

It is interesting that ______________________________ .

_______ is a good idea because ___________________ .

Cool Feedback

Have you thought about _____________________?

I wonder if _________________________________ .

You might want to try ________________________ .

Have you considered __________________________ ?


  1. Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Ask students to create an additional sentence stem for each type of feedback. Invite students to share their stems with the class.
  2. Model providing friendly feedback for students. Deliver examples of both vague, nonspecific feedback and effective feedback. For example, use the sentences, “It was a bad design,” and, “You might try adding more weight to the base to keep it from moving.” Have students discuss the differences between the comments and why the latter is more effective.
  3. Discuss with students how active listening is an important part of receiving feedback. Explain that active listening means paying close attention to the feedback. Explain that the person or group receiving feedback should only respond when they are asked a question.
  4. Encourage students to use the sentence stems while providing feedback to their peers. Write the types of feedback with possible sentence starters on chart paper, and post it in the classroom for students to reference during projects.


Click here for free download of a STEAM Reader with a design challenge that students can do to practice their friendly feedback. 


Author bio

Sara Johnson

Sara Johnson, Educational Consultant

Sara Johnson, M.S.Ed., is a former elementary school teacher. She joined Teacher Created Materials to help create professional resources and curriculum for students worldwide. After overseeing the Shell Education imprint of TCM for nearly 6 years, she joined the Marketing team where she supported the department as the voice of the educator and led their philanthropic outreach efforts. She is now an educational consultant, supporting teachers through professional development and coaching.