Feedback has the largest single impact of any activity on the educational gains made by a student while they study. It is, therefore, worth considering the qualities that make feedback educationally so significant.
While students undertake a wide range of assessment tasks, and can receive feedback verbally, recorded or in writing, research by leading assessment experts indicates that high quality feedback has a number of characteristics, that if present in the feedback will maximize its usefulness for students.
The characteristics of high quality feedback are1:

  • It helps to clarify what good performance is. This can be achieved by explaining the goals of the assessment task and providing clear criteria and standards of performance.
  • It facilitates the development of self-assessment and reflection. If students can be helped to recognise the strengths and weaknesses in their performance then they can address these.
  • It encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning.
  • It is provided in good time to feed into revisions or further work.
  • It guides learning by helping students to understand the principles or ideas underpinning their work.
  • It encourages self-belief and positive motivation.

Additional Resources
The following resources describe a number of important aspects of feedback design and creation, from a focus on turnaround time to discussion of how to engage students with feedback by involving them in the process and maximising its value for their learning.

A workshop, entitled 'Quality Feedback at NTU' is available for NTU colleagues. Please contact Ellie Kennedy.

NOW Learning Room
All staff should find the 'Teaching and Supporting Learning in HE' learning room listed in the Staff Development Section of 'My Learning Rooms'. This learning room is maintained by Organisational Development. Within the Learning Room feedback is covered in the Epigeum resource 'Assessment, Marking and Giving Feedback'.

1Taken from the Epigeum resource on Assessment, marking and giving feedback – available on the Staff tab of NOW under 'Teaching and Supporting Learning in HE'. The characteristics are adapted from the work by Juwah, C., Macfarlane-Dick, D, Matthew, B., Nicol, D., Ross D, & Smith , B. 2004. Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback. Accessed online (29 November 2013) at: The Higher Education Academy.