Mary McGee Wood - Assessment and Feedback - Training and Consultancy

"Good" feedback

What is "good" feedback? Here are two sets of ten principles of good feedback practice, the first from the National Union of Students, the second from a senior academic in the impressive Scottish REAP (Re-engineering Assessment Practices) project. I find it interesting how little they have in common.

The Ten Principles of Good Feedback Practice


1. Should be for learning, not just of learning
Feedback should be primarily used as a learning tool and therefore positioned for learning rather than as a measure of learning.

2. Should be a continuous process
Rather than a one-off event after assessment, feedback should be part of continuous guided learning and an integral part of the learning experience.

3. Should be timely
Feedback should be provided in a timely manner, allowing students to apply it to future learning and assessments. This timeframe needs to be communicated to students.

4. Should relate to clear criteria
Objectives for assessment and grade criteria need to be clearly communicated to, and fully understood by, students. Subsequent feedback should be provided primarily in relation to this.

5. Should be constructive
If feedback is to be constructive it needs to be concise, focused and meaningful to feedforward, highlighting what is going well and what can be improved.

6. Should be legible and clear
Feedback should be written in plain language so it can be easily understood by all students, enabling them to engage with it and support future learning.

7. Should be provided on exams
Exams make up a high proportion of assessment and students should receive feedback on how well they did and how they could improve for the next time.

8. Should include self-assessment and peer-to-peer feedback
Feedback from peers and self-assessment practices can play a powerful role in learning by encouraging reassessment of personal beliefs and interpretations.

9. Should be accessible to all students
Not all students are full-time, campus based and so universities should utilise different technologies to ensure all students have easy access to their feedback.

10. Should be flexible and suited to students' needs
Students learn in different ways and therefore feedback is not "one size fits all". Within reason students should be able to request feedback in various formats depending on their needs.

National Union of Students, The NUS Feedback Amnesty

Ten Principles of Good Assessment and Feedback Practice

Good assessment and feedback practices should:

1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards).
To what extent do students in your course have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards, before, during and after an assessment task?

2. Encourage "time and effort" on challenging learning tasks.
To what extent do your assessment tasks encourage regular study in and out of class and deep rather than surface learning?

3. Deliver high quality feedback information that helps learners self-correct.
What kind of teacher feedback do you provide - in what ways does it help students self-assess and self-correct?

4. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem.
To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes activate your students' motivation to learn and be successful?

5. Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (peer and teacher-student.
What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue (peer and/or tutor-student) around assessment tasks in your course?

6. Facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning.
To what extent are there formal opportunities for reflection, self-assessment or peer assessment in your course?

7. Give learners choice in assessment - content and processes.
To what extent do students have choice in the topics, methods, criteria, weighting and/or timing of learning and assessment tasks in your course?

8. Involve students in decision-making about assessment policy and practice.
To what extent are your students in your course kept informed or engaged in consultations regarding assessment decisions?

9. Support the development of learning communities
To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes help support the development of learning communities?

10. Help teachers adapt teaching to student needs
To what extent do your assessment and feedback processes help inform and shape your teaching?

David Nicol, Keynote Paper, REAP07