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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Feedback for Learning: Implementing Formative Assessment. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Assessment, when used well, helps teachers gather evidence to identify what students think and where their understanding lies, in relation to concepts, knowledge and skills being learned. Following such assessments, explicit feedback is then an essential component of the learning process, as it identifies specific aspects of student performance that need improvement, and helps indicate ways in which the learner can improve. Formative practices linking teaching, learning, assessment

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds and feedback involve teachers: 1. Starting from where the learner is. 2. Recognising that students have to be active in the process and reconstructing their ideas (learning has to be done by them; it cannot be done for them). 3. Sharing learning goals with students. 4. Helping students to know and to recognise the standards they are aiming for and take responsibility for steering their learning in the right direction. 5. Involving students in self-assessment and taking action to move closer to the learning goals, including expressing their ideas and having the opportunity to try out ways in which new inputs might make sense to them, as ‘talking the talk’ is an important part of learning. 6.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds Providing feedback that leads to students recognising their next steps and how to take them. As such, learning, assessment and feedback are inextricably linked.

What is the relationship between feedback and learning?

“It’s not teaching that causes learning. Attempts by the learner to perform cause learning, dependent upon the quality of the feedback and opportunities to use it.” (Wiggins, 1997)

In this video, Andrea explores the relationship between feedback and learning. You can download a summary of the six formative practices [PDF].

Grant Wiggins raises the idea that learning, teaching, assessment and feedback are linked together. We could say that feedback cannot occur until either some initial teaching has taken place or a student has attempted to carry out an activity. It is at this point we can assess their learning and are able to use feedback to help them. As Wiggins highlights, in order for the information that is provided to a learner at this point to qualify as feedback, it needs to link to the learning goals.

These FutureLearn courses from STEM Learning will help you to understand the link between assessment and learning. They cover the fundamental concepts that underpin this course:


Look back at the definition of feedback you wrote in the previous step. Did your definition include ideas about:

  • Feedback being related to improvement?
  • Was the improvement you considered related to the learning or to the task?
  • Students having to take action as part of the process?

Having reflected on what you have defined and the points raised in this step, take time to fill in the reflection grid. We encourage you to use the reflection grid throughout the course to help you focus on ‘successes’ or be aware of ‘problems’, note ‘Eureka moments’, or simply to log ‘questions’.

You can download a Word doc template or create a copy of a Google Doc for your own use.

On some occasions we will prompt you to use the reflection grid, but feel free to use it whenever you want. The reflection grid should serve both as an aide memoire and a record of how your thinking develops during the course.

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This video is from the free online course:

Feedback for Learning: Implementing Formative Assessment

National STEM Learning Centre