Learning and teaching

Principles of Good Feedback

What is good quality feedback?

Feedback should be a dialogue rather than one-way communication. It should clearly link to the learning outcomes and encourage students to reflect on their learning.

Good  feedback  has a positive impact on the person receiving it:

  • it encourages attention to the assessment task - by focusing the student's effort on the task,
  • it motivates the student to continue to work - by encouraging them to do the best they can,
  • it provides evidence of  existing good practice - so the student knows what and why they have done well,
  • clarifies the expected standards - for the piece of assessment
  • signposts where  and how to improve.

A constructive feedback dialogue enables the student to take control of their own assessment by making them active participants in the process.

Clarify what good performance is

Additional resources

There are some good resources produced by the University of Reading in relation to Feedback:

  • Formative Feedback Guidelines in Relation to Learner Characteristics
  • Formative Feedback Guidelines to Enhance Learning (Things to Do)
  • Strategies to improve NSS scores in relation to question on using feedback to improve understanding, providing prompt feedback and providing detailed comments.
  • A guide on how to give feedback to different types of learners,

Videos about feedback

"Feeding Forward"A short interview explaining how to educate students in advance about assessment criteria and tutor's expectations by using marking guide to assess others' work.

"Setting High standards"Advice on how to use an assessment, feedback and re-submission process to coach students about how to reach a higher standard of work at Murdoch University.

"Assessment Careers"A summary of a JISC funded project aiming to enable students to make better use of the feedback that staff provide through introducing feed forward mechanisms.

"Feed Forward"An example of how feed forward processes are established at Manchester Metropolitan University.

"Redesigning feedback involves addressing the feedback literacy of students and staff" A short talk by David Boud discussing important considerations for feedback to make a difference to student work.

"What do students say?" - A video produced by HEA presenting students' views of feedback and what they consider good and bad feedback.

Further reading

Bailey, R. and Garner, M. (2010) Is the feedback in higher education assessment worth the paper it is written on? Teachers' reflections on their practices. Teaching in Higher Education, 15:2, pp.187- 198

Boud D (1995) Enhancing learning through self assessment London: Kogan Page

Carless, D. (2006) Differing perceptions in the feedback process. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), pp. 219–233.

Harlen, W. and Crick, R.D. (2003) Testing and motivation for learning. Assessment in Education 10 (2), 169–207.

Hanrahan, S. and Isaacs, G. (2001) Assessing self- and peer-assessment: the students' views. Higher Education Research & Development 20(1), 53-68

Higgins, R. (2000) "Be more critical!": Rethinking Assessment Feedback. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Conference, Cardiff University, September 7-10 2000.

Juwah, C., et al. (2004). Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback.

Nicol, D (in press) From monologue to dialogue: Improving written feedback processes in mass higher education, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education.

Nicol, D.J. and Boyle, J.T. (2003) Peer Instruction versus Class-wide Discussion in large classes: a comparison of two interaction methods in the wired classroom. Studies in Higher Education 28 (4), 457–473.

Stead, D.R. (2005), A review of the one-minute paper, Active Learning in Higher Education, 6, 118-131

Taras, M. (2003) To feedback or not to feedback in student self-assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(5), 549-565.

Winter, C. and Dye, V. (2004), An investigation into the reasons why students do not collect marked assignments and the accompanying feedback.