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Effective feedback

This section provides advice on feedback practices that are most likely to have a positive impact on learning. It draws ideas from Henderson, Ajjawi, Boud and Molloy (2019) The Impact of Feedback in Higher Education.

Consider the following to establish an effective feedback strategy that will help your students know how to make sense of the feedback they receive, and create an action plan for integrating it into their learning.

Eight key principles for feedback comments

Henderson and Phillips (2015) offer eight key principles for when educators construct their feedback comments:

  1. Be timely - Provide feedback in time to assist students in future assessment tasks.
  2. Be clear - Use unambiguous and specific language. Avoid broad phrases such as ‘great effort’ or ‘bad grammar’.
  3. Be educative - Make constructive suggestions for how work can be improved or strengthened.
  4. Be proportionate to criteria - Focus primarily on the goals of the assessment task and where most impact is needed.
  5. Locate student performance - Assess how students performed in relation to the goals of the task (feed up), what they did well and not so well (feed back), and what they should work on in the future (feed forward).
  6. Emphasise task performance - Provide guidance on the processes and metacognition demonstrated by the student.
  7. Encourage an ongoing dialogue - this further develops the student’s skills by extending an invitation for further discussion.
  8. Be sensitive to the individual - Encourage positive self-esteem and motivation by recognising them in a respectful and welcoming way. This can be actioned through using their name, affirming what has been accomplished, drawing on your understanding of the person to shape the comments. Students who feel supported and respected are more likely to be receptive to feedback and be motivated to act on it.

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