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Characteristics of Effective Feedback

Mon Apr 11, 2022 at 07:30 AM

“To be effective, feedback needs to be clear, purposeful, meaningful, and compatible with students’ prior knowledge and to provide logical connections” (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, p. 104).

Feedback is essential to learning, often an element of class interaction that students rate favorably. But how do we achieve a balance of productive criticism? Under what conditions does feedback work best? Consider these elements not only in how you provide feedback for your students, but also how students conduct peer review.

  • Task specific – feedback requires learning context and therefore needs to be task specific. There is no advantage to tangential conversations when providing feedback.
  • Self-regulation – feedback should encourage the learner’s self-regulation by enhancing self-efficacy and self-esteem. This concept corresponds with teaching learners how to learn.
  • Low task complexity – feedback should address tasks of low complexity. Goals should be broken down into manageable tasks, as this increases the effectiveness of feedback.
  • Timing – the timing of feedback is not as straightforward as some may think. Quick turnaround on the correctness of simple tasks benefits students. While students may prefer instantaneous feedback, the literature supports that task process feedback benefits from a delay where students have time to think about difficult tasks before receiving the feedback.
  • Praise – the most prevalent and least effective, praise disrupts the positive effects of feedback. It should be used cautiously, as students tend to enjoy private praise though it fails the need for task specificity.
  • Technology enhanced – used appropriately, technology has the ability to provide timely feedback, improve collaboration, increase social presence, increase dialogue, improve reflection, support learning principles, and increase student satisfaction. Consider using the technologies available at your school to optimize technology in providing students feedback.


Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), pp. 81-112. doi: 10.3102/003465430298487. 

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Submitted by: Jodie Hemerda [email protected] University of the Rockies.
Photo credits: Nick Fewings

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