Why is feedback important?

“Individuals acquire a skill much more rapidly if they receive feedback about the correctness of what they have done.  One of the most important roles for assessment is the provision of timely and informative feedback to students during instruction and learning so that their practice of a skill and its subsequent acquisition will be effective and efficient.”

(Pellegrino, Chudowsky, & Glaser, 2001)

Characteristics of Effective Feedback

  1. Frequent.  Give multiple pieces of information about how effectively students are learning the concepts and skills of the course; frequent non-graded or low stakes assessments (worth a few points each) help students have a  chance to improve on their performance.
  2. Immediate.  Provide timely feedback to students as soon as possible after administering an assessment.
  3. Discriminating.  Share explicit expectations with students about an assignment.  Provide a rubric, or scoring guide, to students before an assignment is due. Give feedback that conforms to the rubric. 
  4. Supportive.  Share your confidence in students’ ability to do the work.  Students respond positively when they believe the instructor is genuinely interested in their success. The manner in which you give students feedback can be as powerful as the feedback itself. For example, Sipple (2007) found that 70% of students preferred receiving instructor feedback on their writing in the form of recorded audio commentary, rather than the traditional form of paper mark-up.  One student commented “It made me feel like I was being tutored one-on-one, and I received some great advice. I felt congratulated on parts that I did really well on when I would hear parts you liked. But I would not feel down if I heard something negative. It made me try harder” (p. 26). To illustrate further, Lee and Schallert (2008) found that students with whom the teacher had developed a trusting relationship were more likely to implement written suggestions on paper drafts.


Lee, G., & Schallert, D.L. (2008). Meeting in the margins: Effects of the teacher-student relationship on revision processes of EFL college students taking a composition course. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17. 165-182.

Pellegrino, J.W., Chudowsky, N., & Glaser, R. (Eds.)  (2001).  Knowing what students know:  The science and design of educational assessment. Washington, DC:  National Academy.

Sipple, S. (2007). Ideas in practice: Developmental writers’ attitudes toward audio and written feedback. Journal of Developmental Education, 30(3), 22-31.]