Verbal Feedback and the ‘Osmosis Effect’

Positive verbal feedback is always a winner!

This easy and effective strategy provides feedback to students as they are working and also sparks ‘osmosis thinking and learning’. This is when students overhear you talking to others, they ‘tune in’ and ‘pick up’ things that are expected or can be improved on.


As students are working on the set task rove about, stand behind or next to them and make a comment about their work.  The comment must point out something that they are achieving.

 The comment must provide a warm, encouraging, positive feeling.

 ‘I can see you have mastered the technique of using paragraphs.’

‘I like the way you have used full stops at the end of your sentences. I also notice the capital letters at the start of your sentences. That shows me you have achieved those skills. Super job’. (This is a highly effective comment. You will notice students seated nearby checking and adding full stops or capital letters to their work). 

‘Gee you certainly use effective colours to give your work ‘wow’ quality.’

‘Your handwriting is exceptionally neat and readable, that’s a great skill to have.’

‘I really like the way you take care when you are colouring, you are staying in the lines and using lots of different colours. Well done’.

‘Hey, I am so pleased to see you using the correct strategy to solve that maths problem.’

Your efforts to get that work nailed are fabulous – I am so impressed!

I like the way you and your partner are discussing the question, great organisation.


  1. Move around the room and comment on EVERY students work.
  2. Only stay for a few seconds, enough to make the comment and move on.
  3. Wander randomly but make sure you make a comment to everyone.
  4. Some may have done a lot, some a little – Your job is to provide encouragement and motivation.
  5. Sometimes all the student may have done is rule the page, started a heading, got out their pencils, opened their book – that’s enough for a positive comment.

‘Great to see you have made a start, well done’.

 Providing that positive comment gives students a boost and promotes confidence and well being.

 Use the technique a few times through the lesson. You are the only one in the room who will be able to provide that positive feedback to every student.


Verbal feedback builds relationships between yourself and your students, gives you a chance to observe and quietly assess who is managing and most importantly sends positive messages to your students. This is an easy technique to raise self esteem.

A great ‘spin off’ is noting the students who take on board a skill or strategy or do that ‘extra bit’ to accomplish the task and all they did was ‘listen in’ as you spoke to another student who was near-feather_correct by.