Feedback to Enhance Learning

Teaching is good or poor greatly depends on whether feedback is given in the assessment process. Assessment without feedback not only dampers students’ motivation to learn, but also hinders their ability to achieve the expected learning goals. Therefore, all assessment practices, both summative and formative, should include feedbacks to students such that they know how well they are doing from a perspective outside themselves, and enable them to critique and further develop their ideas.  Providing constructive and meaningful feedback to students also gives them a feeling that the assessors respect and pay attention to the effort they have put in to the tasks.

It is crucial that effective feedback is provided to students as they learn, such that:

  1. they know how well they are doing on what they have done (summative feedback), and
  2. what might need to be improved (formative feedback) while they are still studying in the course, so that a better result can be achieved.

If feedback is given after learning, it can only inform students of what they have learned and what they were supposed to have learned, and in most circumstances, students rarely pay attention to comments given at the end of the course, let alone generalizing the comments and applying it in future context.

Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practices: Nicol (2005)

  1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards);
  2. Facilitates the development of self-assessment (reflection) in learning;
  3. Delivers high quality information to students about their learning;
  4. Encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning;
  5. Encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem;
  6. Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance;
  7. Provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape the teaching.

Source from: Nicol, D., Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006), Assessment and self-Regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 31, Issue 2, pp. 199 – 218