Updated: Sep 3, 2022
The Early Career Framework states that teachers must learn that... High-quality feedback can be written or verbal; it is likely to be accurate and clear, encourage further effort, and provide specific guidance on how to improve.
What does “High Quality Feedback” mean to you?
Thinking about your lessons and the classes that you teach, can you give an example of where you have given high-quality feedback? Frame your answer around the 3Is – what was the intent of the feedback, how did you implement the feedback and what was the impact of the feedback?
What is Feedback?
Feedback can be defined as ‘information given by a teacher to pupil(s) about their performance that aims to improve learning.’ (EEF, 2022)
Feedback is a compelling influence on learner achievement. When teachers seek or at least are open to what learners know, what they understand, where they make errors, when they have misconceptions when they are not engaged- then teaching and learning can be synchronised and powerful. Feedback to teachers makes learning visible Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning, Oxford, UK: Routledge, p173
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. (Principles of Good Feedback | Learning and teaching | University of Greenwich, 2022)
“The research on formative assessment and feedback is reinterpreted to show how these processes can help students take control of their own learning… A key argument is that students are already assessing their own work and generating their own feedback… Exemplars are effective because they make explicit what is required and they define a valid standard against which students can compare their work.”
(Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick, 2007).
Effective feedback is designed to determine a learner's level of understanding and skill development to plan the next steps towards achieving the learning intentions or goals.
Ross Morrison McGill over on #TeacherToolkit has an excellent post called "7 Good Feedback Principles" which provides clear examples of how to deliver feedback and provides a planning document for delivering feedback to your students.
Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice by Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick is an excellent research paper which supports the article on TeacherToolkit
Done well, feedback supports pupil progress, building learning, addressing misunderstandings, and thereby closing the gap between where a pupil is and where the teacher wants them to be. However, not all feedback has positive effects. Done badly, feedback can even harm progress. Nor is feedback ‘free’. Large amounts of time are spent providing pupils with feedback, perhaps not always productively.
Historically, much consideration has been given to the methods by which feedback is delivered. Specifically, should feedback be written, or should it be verbal? This guidance report aims to move beyond this and focus on what really matters: the principles of good feedback rather than the written or verbal methods of feedback delivery.
The EEF guidance report is based on the best available international evidence, in addition to a review of current practice, and refined through consultation with teachers and other experts.
Feedback, perhaps more than any other teaching technique, sits on a knife edge. Without good feedback, progress is slow, stunted and piecemeal. Students will make mistakes and worse, embed those mistakes and “learn” incorrect information. Corrective feedback is therefore crucial in preventing mistakes and maximising performance and indeed is a crucial part of “deliberate practice” – or the optimised process of improving performance (see for example Ericsson, 1993). However, all that glitters is not gold, and there are vast swathes of literature showing that feedback can also impede learning. In a seminal study on the topic, Kluger and DeNisi (1996) established that in fact around one third of feedback interventions decrease learning. The Chartered College of Teaching provides a case study is written by Adam Boxer, a secondary science teacher and Head of Department.
Characteristics of Effective Feedback
Educative in Nature
Providing feedback means giving students an explanation of what they are doing correctly AND incorrectly, with the focus of the feedback on what the students is doing right. It is most productive to a student’s learning when they are provided with an explanation as to what is accurate and inaccurate about their work. One technique is to use the concept of a “feedback sandwich” to guide your feedback: Compliment, Correct, Compliment.
Given In a Timely Manner
When student feedback is given immediately after showing proof of learning, the student responds and remembers the experience about what is being learned more positively. If we wait too long to give feedback, the student might not connect the feedback with the learning moment.
Sensitive to the Individual Needs of the Student
It is vital that we take into consideration each individual when giving student feedback. Our classrooms are full of diverse learners. Some students need to be nudged to achieve at a higher level and other needs to be handled gently so as not to discourage learning and damage self-esteem.
Answers the 4 Questions
Studies of effective teaching and learning (Dinham, 2002, 2007a; 2007b) have shown that learners want to know where they stand in regards to their work. Providing answers to the following four questions on a regular basis will help provide quality student feedback.
What can the student do?
What can’t the student do?
How does the student’s work compare with that of others?
How can the student do better?
Provides a Model or Example
Communicate with your students the purpose for an assessment and/or student feedback. Demonstrate to students what you are looking for by giving them an example of what an A+ paper looks like. Provide a contrast of what a C- paper looks like. This is especially important at the upper learning levels.
MOOC EDSCI1x | Interviews Video 1: Feedback | Effective Teaching Strategies
This is the fourth of six videos produced for South Australia's Department of Education and Child Development about ten years ago. The video focuses on the formative assessment strategy of "Providing feedback that moves learning forward". The Powerpoint slides are here: https://bit.ly/3amdRsG
[ECF Further reading recommendations are indicated with an asterisk.]
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009) Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21(1), pp.5-31.
*Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2004). Working inside the Black Box: Assessment for Learning in the Classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1), 8–21. Accessible from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ705962
Christodoulou, D. (2017) Making Good Progress: The Future of Assessment for Learning. Oxford: OUP.
*Coe, R. (2013) Improving Education: A triumph of hope over experience. Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring. Accessible from: http://www.cem.org/attachments/publications/ImprovingEducation2013.pdf.
*Education Endowment Foundation (2016) A marked improvement? A review of the evidence on written marking. Accessible from: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Publications/EEF_Marking_Review_April_2016.pdf. Education Endowment Foundation (2018) Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit: Accessible from: