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Learners progress when they get feedback

Feedback is the key that turns a student into an engaged learner. However, how feedback is delivered lies at the heart of effective feedback.

Effective feedback engages learners

Research shows that timely feedback enables student progress. It has to be:

  1. Specific
  2. Delivered as soon as possible after the work is handed in
  3. Related to the learner’s personal learning objective
  4. Carefully worded so that it is kind and generous in spirit.

So what does each bullet point mean?


Feedback highlights one thing.

For example, if a student writes a run-on sentence, feedback could read: this sentence is far too long.

Why is it too long? This is unclear. The addition of ‘far’ could be interpreted as a criticism.

Helpful feedback would engage with the student and suggest solutions without giving answers.

Delivered in a timely way

Feedback is most effective when students get it within a day of submitting their work. The memory of what the feedback relates to is fresh.

Relate to an objective

Relate the feedback to a learning objective. This helps the student see the point of working on the issue raised by the feedback.

Carefully presented

If feedback is respectfully delivered, the student is more likely to follow its suggestions.

Taking the time to deliver helpful feedback is rewarding for the teacher as well as the learner. It helps build and grow relationships.

It is easy to tell a student that they ‘could do better’. It is much harder to identify how the student could do better and to suggest how to do better.

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