Teaching strategy: Feedback


There are many different types of feedback that can be given to students. It has been shown that good feedback can make a significant difference to a student’s future performance1.

There are different types of feedback depending on the assessment process used:

  • Formative – as the students are learning the teacher is monitoring and giving feedback. It is specific and, in the moment, teachers should be adjusting their questioning and the activities in the lesson based on their formative assessment observations
  • Summative – the traditional pre or post-test with a grade/number attached. These can then be used to inform future teaching, e.g. is there a need to reteach a concept? They are also used for reporting.
  • Diagnostic – a test or set of questions that are designed to discover what students already know and what misconceptions they hold. This will inform what the teacher goes on to teach.

To be effective feedback should be:

  • timely – not too long after the piece of work was done so that it is still relevant
  • constructive/informative – not just a grade (often no grade just a comment), and comments that enable the student to implement changes that will improve future pieces of work
  • specific to the task and related to the learning outcomes/success criteria
  • not just praise – this can be negative as the student can become complacent
  • detailed – students need to know what as good and what needs improvement
  • positively worded and non-judgemental
  • given sparingly so that it is meaningful

Feedback can be given in a variety of ways:

  • verbally – in response to a question in class
  • written, as a comment on a piece of work or test. In mathematics it is important that the feedback is more than just a number/grade or ticks and crosses. Comments should be informative and direct the students to how they can make improvement in future performance.
  • through technology – e.g. leaving a comment (voice note, written, video etc.) on a piece of work handed in electronically

1 https://www.visiblelearning.com/sites/default/files/Feedback%20article.pdf

The teacher:

  • Provides timely, specific and useful feedback to students
  • Uses feedback to illustrate to students how they can move forward and improve their work
  • Gives feedback in multiple formats – verbal, written, electronic etc.
  • Shows students how to give respectful feedback to each other and how to self-assess/feedback on their own work
  • Uses assessment and feedback data to inform future teaching and learning activities

The students:

  • Know how to, and do, use feedback to improve their work
  • Can give and receive peer feedback respectfully
  • Appreciate the feedback they receive and take note of it

Example of the strategy in action:

This resource provides detail on the different types of feedback and how they can be used to improve student outcomes.

This is a one-page summary of the article above.

In this video a teacher explains how they used feedback from students to improve their own practice.


Download a PDF version of the Feedback teaching strategy.