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Constructively feeding forward

This article looks at the differences between feedback and feedforward.
Man with two thumbs up

Constructive feedback also feeds “forward”

The most common type of feedback learners receive is formal feedback (either written or verbal) on assessments. Assessment feedback serves two main purposes (Brown, Race, and Smith, 2005).

  • It identifies how well a learner has performed in relation to the assessment requirements and/or learning outcomes
  • It supports the learner to improve. This is also referred to as ‘feedforward’ as it provides information to help the student to move forward in their programme of study.

An example of using both feedback and feedforward in relation to a learner’s presentation might be:

  • “You were trying to present a lot of information which resulted in the presentation seeming very rushed.” Feedback.
  • “I recommend practicing your presentations at home or with a fellow student, to see how much content you can cover comfortably in the timeframe.” Feedforward.

Another example of feedback and feedforward might be:

  • “I noticed that you read your presentation off the paper you were holding. This resulted in very little eye contact with the audience.” Feedback.
  • “For future presentations, I suggest using cards with bullet points on your key points. This will allow you to make more eye contact with your audience while giving your presentation more energy.” Feedforward.

When to give feedback

Feedback is most effective when it is:

  • Given early in the learning cycle. For example, when a learner does not fully understand the requirements of or is heading in the wrong direction with their work, early feedback creates an early intervention where a learner can be supported and redirected before too much time has been invested. This supports learners to become more successful (Brown, et al., 2005).
  • Received as soon as possible to be effective. The longer between completing a task and receiving feedback, the less effective the feedback can be (Brown, Race & Smith, 2005).
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Adult Education Essentials: Assessment for Learning Principles and Practices

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