Giving great feedback on assessment

19 October 2022

Feedback can occur at various stages of the semester including when marking assessments. As you complete the last internal assessment marking for the semester, here are some tips to help you give great feedback.

Feedback is an opportunity for students to make sense of their performance and is a vital part of student learning. You can provide individual, group, or whole class feedback such as written comments and visual indicators (i.e., ticks, crosses, smiley faces) on the assessment itself, comments against specific criteria in your marking guide/rubric, or overall comments about the assessment.

Markers often default to written comments; however, another option is the use of video or audio feedback. Video and audio feedback can be especially useful for students with learning disabilities, is helpful for tasks requiring practical demonstration, can save the marker time, and is perceived by students as more personal, supportive, and caring than written feedback.

When providing feedback, remember that feedback should not be about every aspect of an assessment or a justification for the mark you have awarded. Here is some general guidance on providing feedback:

  • Provide specific, not vague, comments
  • Focus on positive reinforcement (i.e., strengths) as well as identifying areas for improvement
  • Look for patterns (i.e., representative strengths and weaknesses)
  • Ask questions that will guide further inquiry by students rather than provide answers for them
  • Avoid over-commenting or “picking apart” student work

To give more meaningful and effective feedback:

  • Link your feedback to the goals of the assessment
  • Use your feedback to teach – focus on what you would like students to address in future work and try to highlight how the learning is transferable to the future (i.e., assessment, other course/s, study skills, or careers)
  • Target the knowledge and skill development that will help the most with student progress
  • Focus your comments on aspects your students can use for further learning or improvement
  • Direct students to relevant learning outcomes and course resources for further guidance
  • Encourage students to reflect on what the feedback means and how they can act on the advice you have given them