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December 10, 2020 • 1 minute read
By: Saskia Watts

As 2020 comes to an end, we want to recognize your continued hard work and adaptability in responding to the dramatic changes in education.

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Blog > The dos and don'ts of giving feedback: Teach Online Toolkit 'Refresher'

December, 3, 2020 . 2 minute read

The dos and don'ts of giving feedback: Teach Online Toolkit 'Refresher'



Meaningful feedback is key to learning, but can be difficult to deliver in a remote environment, with research showing that the type of feedback, and the way it is given, have different levels of efficacy. 

So, whether you are providing feedback yourself, or giving your students advice on best practice to help them with peer assessment, there are some key elements to consider, and some to avoid completely!


The dos

1. Clarify what good performance looks like

  • Ensure your students understand what good performance looks like from the offset, so there is no room for confusion. Provide a marking grid when you set the assignment, so you can use this as a reference when providing feedback.

2. Be timely

  • Timely feedback is not only proven to be more effective, it better supports students’ learning. Providing students with feedback between assignments allows them the chance to apply suggestions from their first piece to their second, and see the feedback improving their work in real time.

3. Be specific

  • General feedback can leave your students confused, with little idea of how to make improvements going forward. Provide feedback specific to their work and the topic they are investigating. This not only allows for focused discussion on how to improve, but also shows your students that you have spent time analysing their work.

4. Be sensitive

  • You may be unaware of the challenges your students are experiencing, be it personal or regarding their university career. Always take this into account when providing feedback – be conscious of your tone and how your students appear to be receiving any praise or constructive criticism. Remain empathetic, and take cues from the learner on how to provide feedback going forward.

5. Allow open conversation

  • Encouraging your students to not just accept your feedback, but ask questions around it, can further deepen their understanding of areas they need to work on, both in the understanding of the topic and in the application of their knowledge.

The don'ts

1. Give feedback your students cannot act upon

  • Ensuring the feedback you provide is robust enough for your students to act upon and make marked improvements to their future work is key. Make suggestions on how to better their assignments opposed to simply pointing out areas they may have fallen down in.

2. Provide too much feedback

  • Keep your feedback concise and relevant. An overload of feedback can overwhelm, confuse and demotivate a student, as they don’t know where to begin for their next assignment, and may feel demoralised believing their work featured so many mistakes that it warranted pages of feedback. Only comment on the main areas for improvement, or the ones which were successful and should be continued.

3. Criticise

  • Your feedback should be balanced and constructive. Don’t simply criticise – suggest how sections could be improved whilst also highlighting the things that have been done well..

4. Sandwich feedback

  • Sandwiching a negative point in between two positive points may feel like the best way to provide criticism, but this can undermine your feedback and forever link praise with negative feedback. Transparency is best.

5. Provide feedback without tying it to a learning objective

  • Your students need to know why you are giving them the feedback you are, and what specific learning objectives these are tied to, so they fully understand how to apply it to future assignments.

Feedback connects you with your students and makes learning into a conversation – it reminds your students that you’re there to help them learn and improve, and that you care enough to respond. It can often act as motivation for learners, as it is a recognition of the work that they have put in, making it feel worthwhile. However, feedback provided in the incorrect way can demotivate students, and change their attitude towards you and their learning.

Learn more: Providing effective feedback

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