Feedback is an important and challenging process in teaching. Plan feedback to enhance student learning.

“Feedback is a process in which learners make sense of information about their performance and use it to enhance the quality of their work or learning strategies.” (source: feedbackforlearning.org)

Effective feedback

Feedback should positively influence students to make informed decisions on how to improve their practices to reach their learning goals better.

Effective feedback should:

  • guide the learner to understand more about course learning outcomes
  • inform them of their progress towards the achievement of learning goals
  • guide how to adjust their practices to achieve their next goal better
  • empower them to make valid decisions to meaningfully self-regulate their learning
  • boost the confidence and motivation of the learner
  • engage students with their teacher, peers and course feedback loops.

Feedback for learning - feedback loop

Source: Price, M. & O'Donovan, B. (2006)

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Types of feedback

When designing your course, it is essential to factor in feedback opportunities during the semester and before summative assessment occurs. Students benefit from receiving formative feedback for ungraded or low stake tasks.

What is important about the task you have set and what are the key learning outcomes you are looking for? You may choose to focus your feedback on the process, the output, how the learner participated in the task or a mixture of all three.

This feedback can alert students to their strengths and weaknesses, how they are progressing and what changes to undertake to succeed with subsequent tasks and summative assessment (i.e. 'feedforward' principle).

Summative feedback is provided at the conclusion of courses or activities and focuses more on identifying student’s standard of their performance, particularly in relation to the expected levels of performance and associated grading outcomes.

Often feedback serves dual purposes with summative and formative aspects, justifying outcomes and supporting students to enhance their future work.

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Delivery of feedback

Feedback does not just have to be a teacher-led process. You can provide opportunities for students to assess their progress and that of their peers. This assessment can be as simple as setting a task (e.g. online self-marking quiz) for the students to appreciate their knowledge progress and setting class activities in which peers work together to provide one another with feedback.

Providing verbal feedback in class can be a quick and valuable exercise. You may choose to record an audio or video file to deliver feedback on a task that students have completed.

Written feedback can be time-consuming, especially if you are struggling to convey the right message without being misconstrued by the student. Aim for quality rather than quantity in what you write and give students something they can work with to increase their success with future tasks in your course and other courses.

Digital assessment tools often have feedback and marking systems, including digital rubrics, comment banks, audio recording and marking up materials.

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Tips to encourage learning from your feedback

  • Schedule opportunities for regular feedback to help students engage with you, the course and their peers. Have specific times for formal feedback, use incidental feedback in class and introduce peer feedback among students.
  • Make feedback relevant to individual student’s work and make it as clear as you can that you are familiar with their work (where possible).
  • Aim for a short turnaround time between assessment submission and feedback return to improve the relevance of the feedback provided.
  • Use a variety of strategies to deliver feedback:
    • Audio feedback offers a more personal experience. Record yourself giving verbal feedback using Turnitin or a screen capture tool such as Kaltura Capture with the student’s work displayed on the screen.
    • Organise a Zoom session to deliver feedback by displaying the student or group assignment while sharing your screen.
    • Use annotation tools to provide feedback on the assignment or use Zoom breakout rooms to enable peer feedback sessions.

View the 'Feedback for Learning: Closing the assessment loop' one-page infographic (PDF, 125.9 KB) 

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References and further reading

Boud, D. Molloy, E. (2013). Rethinking models of feedback for learning: the challenge of design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(6), 698-712. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2012.691462.

Brooks, C., Carroll, A., Gillies, R. M., & Hattie, J.  (2019). A Matrix of Feedback for Learning.Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 44(4), 14-32. https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2018v44n4.2

Feedback for Learning: Closing the assessment loop. Retrieved 17 June 2021 from https://feedbackforlearning.org 

O’Donovan, B., Rust, C., Price, M. (2015). A scholarly approach to solving the feedback dilemma in practice. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(6), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1052774 

Price, M., O'Donovan, B. (2006). Improving performance through enhancing student understanding criteria and feedback. In Bryan, C., Clegg, K. (Ed.), Innovative Assessment in Higher Education (pp. 107). Routledge.

Sadler, D. R. (2010). Beyond feedback: developing student capability in complex appraisal. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(5), 535–550. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602930903541015 

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 Assessment workshops

Each semester, ITaLI offers several 2-hour workshops to support academic teaching staff design and implement assessment for their courses.

Designing assessment

Implementing assessment: marking, moderation and feedback

Need help?

ITaLI offers personalised support services across various areas, including providing effective feedback for students to enhance their learning.