Viewing Feedback as a Tool for Learning

March 11, 2016 Kelly Basara

New neurological research indicates that humans have a biological desire for feedback and seek it out.  Providing quality feedback that focuses on learning outcomes and encourages students to revisit the purpose of an assignment gives students the criteria for success.  It should be viewed as an opportunity for learning under the right conditions.  There are specific actions that an instructor can employ that will dramatically improve student motivation, performance, and persistence in a course of study.

Setup Expectations Early with Students 

It is important to establish guidelines with students about how to utilize the feedback they will be provided.  They should know when to expect it and what to do with the information.  Many students need to understand the assessment process and its purpose.  Letting them know that feedback is part of this process will enable them to view it as an opportunity to learn and grow.


Sending an email at the beginning of the semester that will define for the students the feedback mechanisms you will provide and how they can use them to get help. Be sure to include helpful resources for learning .

Send Feedback in a Timely Manner 

Any delay in delivering information back to
a student about their work diminishes its
value for learning.  Timely feedback 
students to monitor their own learning
progress and 
helps them to build a plan for
academic success.


Provide Meaningful Feedback

All feedback should be responsive to student
work by providing specific suggestions and
related comments 
that support and extend 
an understanding of the presented material. 
There should be a definitive link between the
student’s answer and the teacher’s 
comment that is instructive.

Make Assessments Valuable

Students should be able to easily identify the learning outcomes in the feedback on assessments so they have clear targets that will help them achieve higher. Providing only a percentage or grade omits the truly vital information a student needs for understanding.





Make Every Word Count

Feedback is received well when it is corrective in nature.  Focus on providing explicit and informative comments that guide students back through the learning process to gain better insights into the material.




Give Students Time

Allow students ample time to absorb the feedback and to incorporate it into their schema. Giving students opportunities to review, improve, and try again increases their success rate and motivations for learning.  This is a feed forward process that encourages students to perform better on future assessments.


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