18 Feedback

Feedback is the information students receive about their performance throughout the course; student success is closely correlated with receiving regular, timely feedback written to develop a growth mindset.

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When we think of courses, one of the first things we think of is assessment. We think of the time we spend reading student work and assigning grades to this work. Don’t get us wrong—this is an important part of the job—but, when we think about student learning, it is better to start with feedback. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean more marking! If we think about feedback before we think about assessment, then we focus our attention on what students need to know about their performance, and when they need to know it. If we think about assessment before we think about feedback, then we may end up leaving feedback too late to help improve student performance. Regular feedback, which may or may not be tied to assessment, can offer richer opportunities for students to improve during the term itself. 


Feedback can take place in many forms. When students have regular, just-in-time feedback, it means that they are receiving feedback on their performance throughout the course. In a well-developed course, the instructor isn’t the only one providing feedback. Feedback is something that comes from all sides, from the students themselves, from their peers, from their computers, and from their instructor.

As soon as the active role of learners is acknowledged, then conceptions of feedback need to move from the mechanistic to the responsive. That is, the role of learners as constructors of their own understanding needs to be accepted. Feedback then becomes not a control mechanism designed by others to corral the learner, albeit in desirable ways, but a process used by learners to facilitate their own learning.

David Boud and Elizabeth Molloy, 2012 

The best form of feedback is a loop. This means that engagement is happening at all stages throughout the course. It is a continual back and forth between the student and their course. It means that the student constantly has opportunities to reflect on their performance and use this information to improve.


Watch this short video for Chris Rust and David Boud’s excellent summary of feedback:

Video: ” Principle 3: Engaged Feedback” by Teaching Development UOW can be found online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz_kfehVXds&feature=emb_imp_woyt​


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