Give effective feedback
Rowe, Muchatuta and Wood (2010, p. 217)
An alternative format may be downloaded here: Designing effective feedback (DOCX 15KB)
Effective feedback tips and how to be inclusive
Multiple feedback formats: cater for learner variety, which will equitably assess learning outcomes of your diverse students. Following Universal Design for Learning principles, use a range of feedback types such as rubrics and written, video or audio commentary. Multimedia tools offer a great opportunity to connect with your students. It also creates a sense of social presence for cloud and distant-learning students who study wholly online, and helps personalise their learning experience. For instructions on how to leave feedback using multiple formats in CloudDeakin, go to the DTeach guide page and navigate to the link 'Evaluating and Grading Submissions'. For information about inclusive design and application of rubrics refer to Make assessment inclusive.
General feedback: discuss shared issues and common problems with all your students. This could be undertaken in a class, seminar or online discussion. Or you could use the Discussions tool in CloudDeakin as this posts information on the home page of your unit site.
Constructive, fair and equitable feedback: give positive, clear and specific guidance on progress and how to improve. Students prefer targeted feedback that states exactly what you would like changed rather than general statements such as 'More detail needed'. Academic and Peer Support have developed a series of teaching resources on how to give effective feedback to support the development of students’ academic literacies (e.g. critical analysis, paraphrasing, referencing) and English language proficiency (ELP). The resources provide clear strategies on giving language and literacy feedback, as well as examples that can be easily adapted for your purposes. Generate your own phrase-bank as a helpful way to ensure that feedback is fair, equitable and consistent. Share your phrase-bank with other colleagues who are assessing work in the same unit.Here is an example feedback phrase-bank (DOC 36KB).
Encouragement: motivate student improvement through giving praise and positive commentary.
Timely and frequent feedback: provide prompt and regular feedback that closely follows the assessment task or learning activity.
Plain, clear and accessible language: clarify learning objectives, expectations, instructions and processes in clear plain English.
Inclusive language: accommodate differing language capacities and levels; don't use sociocultural or gender-biased stereotypes and examples.
Empathy: foster student engagement and belonging by demonstrating care, compassion, understanding and interest in your students' well-being.
Student involvement: encourage active learning and participation in the feedback process, e.g. self-assessment, reflective activities, taking part in unit eValuate surveys, and asking students what they found useful in their feedback.
Collaborative learning: provide opportunities for students to collectively learn through peer feedback activities. For a Deakin example go to Make assessment inclusive and watch the video 'Formative peer assessment activity', which demonstrates how we give inclusive feedback.
Tracking methods: monitor students' academic progress and achievement (e.g. through CloudDeakin analytics, seminar attendance). This will help you identify struggling or vulnerable students.
Refer to student support services: direct students requiring academics skills assistance or other help to appropriate services such as Study Support, Deakin International, Division of Student Life, and Library Help. Go to Teaching Support Services at a Glance for a comprehensive list of available services and online resources at Deakin.
Student consultation appointments: be approachable by encouraging students to speak with you and discuss assessment feedback or study progress. Provide your contact details and availability to students on the first day of teaching and re-iterate this throughout the trimester.
(Adapted from Rowe, Muchatuta & Wood 2010)
Why is effective feedback important?
Assessment feedback is a powerful opportunity to engage and support all students more effectively in their learning progress, including those who are less familiar with the practices and language of higher education. Students who are struggling, feel that they do not belong, or cannot achieve success in their studies will benefit from more frequent feedback, and the sense that the university and its staff care about their progress. Providing effective feedback is therefore vital for your all your students, especially those from equity groups.
Scholarship evidences benefits including:
- significant influence on students’ learning
- positive impact of feedback on student retention and success, particularly for students from low socioeconomic (LSES) culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds or with low preparedness for university
- provision of academic support to students
- significant influence on students' motivation and self-esteem.
(Kerridge 2013; Kift & Moody 2009; Tinto 2002)
Effective feedback provides crucial guidance and support that develops students' self-directed learning to:
- assess existing knowledge
- reflect on what they have learned
- identify what they still need to learn
- guide and support future improvement.
Inclusive Feedback Model
The Inclusive Feedback Model—developed by Deakin academic Susie Macfarlane and the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, with input from Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE)—aims to improve feedback practices by designing, implementing, evaluating and disseminating a model of effective feedback that incorporates inclusive practice principles and guides.
This inclusive teaching-learning model comprises:
- Principles and process of effective feedback (DOCX 22KB)
- Designing effective feedback model (DOCX 66KB)
- Designing effective feedback worksheet (DOCX 41KB)
- Giving effective feedback model and checklist (DOCX 169KB)
The five key areas in the inclusive feedback model are:
- Standards: development of standards and evaluation of students' work against these
- Alignment: assessment evaluates students' progress in achieving standards (learning outcomes)
- Application: feedback describes how students can improve subsequent work
- Value and purpose: feedback demonstrates a commitment to supporting student learning
- Agency and self-regulation: students set learning goals, undertake, monitor and evaluate their learning and reflect on the feedback.
Video: Develop a feedback rich environment, RMIT
Please watch this video from RMIT for suggestions on ways to give feedback.
Develop a feedback rich environment, Mandy Kienhuis, RMIT
Please note: As the auto-generated captioning is not accurate, please refer to the transcript.
A video transcript may be downloaded here: Develop a feedback rich environment (DOC 37KB)
Kerridge, A 2013, ‘Feedback for Success (PDF 158KB)’, 16th International First Year in Higher Education Conference, 8 July, Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand, retrieved 17 January 2017.
Kift, SM & Moody, KE 2009, ‘Harnessing assessment and feedback in the first year to support learning success, engagement and retention (PDF 241KB)’, ATN Assessment Conference 2009 Proceedings, 19 – 20 November, RMIT University, retrieved 17 January 2017.
Morrison, D 2013, Four good reasons why students need instructor feedback in online courses, Online Learning Insights, 3 April, WebLog post, retrieved 15 December 2015.
Rowe, A, Muchatuta, M & Wood, LN 2010, 'Inclusive practice in higher education: feedback that breaks pedagogical barriers', in (eds) N Riseman, S Rechter & E Warne, Learning, teaching and social justice in higher education, University of Melbourne and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, retrieved 3 May 2017.
RMIT Inclusive teaching practices: 5. Develop a feedback rich environment 2013, YouTube, Mandy Kienhuis, RMIT, 8 December, retrieved 18 December 2015.
Tinto, V 2002, 'Establishing conditions for student success: lessons learned in the United States', Keynote speech, 11th Annual Conference of the European Access Network, 20 June, Monash University, Prato, Italy, retrieved 17 January 2017.