Effective feedback

A decade of research has provided strong evidence that feedback is a powerful tool for student learning (see meta-analyses by John Hattie in 2009). Feedback has also been foregrounded in the UK by questions in the National Student Survey.

Institutions and individuals have worked to make the content of feedback more useful: offering actionable constructive comments, clarifying performance goals and using language students can understand. There has also been an emphasis on ‘feed-forward’ – enabling the student to improve their next piece of work (Hattie and Timperley, 2007).

Students must work with their feedback to derive benefit from it. Good feedback should therefore prompt the student to act: to apply feed-forward, to evaluate their own work, to engage in a dialogue with teachers and peers. (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006).

These principles of effective feedback are demonstrated in the proforma available from the subsection below.

More recent activity in higher education has extended this logic. Rather than relying on the content of feedback to prompt students to act on it, teachers have created activities and tools that support student engagement with feedback.

A recent systematic review (Winstone, Nash, Parker and Rowntree, 2017) highlighted key areas of developing practice that may be relevant to your teaching. Drawing on this review we provide below links to resources for you to reuse and/or adapt and research studies that you may find useful.

How are students encouraged and equipped to enter a dialogue with teachers?

'Adapting the feedback pro-forma' and 'Adapting the collective feedback pro-forma' both suggest practical ways to encourage discussion.

The pro-forma themselves are available via the links below:

When thinking about how to adapt the pro-forma, you might find it useful to look at examples that have been adapted to provide feedback on:

Barker and Pinard (2014) suggest a variety of activities that should encourage students to engage with feedback, including:

  • Ask students to anticipate their grade and/or write their own evaluation
  • Encourage/require students to give a written or verbal response to their teacher’s feedback
  • Teachers could design a series of linked assessment exercises in which students are expected to apply feedback in order to improve a piece of work. Additional marks could be awarded where students are explicit in using teacher comments.

If you would to discuss introducing any of these activities into your teaching context, please contact your Eden Centre advisers.

What additional support and resources might enable students to understand and apply their feedback?

LSE LIFE is LSE's centre for academic, personal and professional development for students. Students can participate in workshops and/or request one-to-one sessions with student advisers or access the LSE LIFE Moodle site for independent study.

Withey (2013) summarises a range of research all of which highlights that even when good feedback practices are introduced students’ lack of understanding of feedback given prevents the effective use of that feedback. Withey’s paper examines two strategies that proved useful – a feedback guide for students and feedback literacy exercises that can be incorporated into teaching and learning activities.

What learning technologies can support feedback to students?

The LSE Moodle Guide provides guidance on how Moodle to support feedback processes.

Dr Connson Locke (Department of Management) provides a useful case study detailing how to manage marking and moderation processes and provide feedback to students online.

Audio feedback is now available easily through Moodle, and studies have found students respond positively to feedback provided in this way (Lunt and Curran, 2009).

We have produced a handout that covers issues you might like to consider when implementing audio feedback.

How can peer feedback be used?

Nicol, Thomson and Brevlin (2013) summarise evidence relating to both the learning benefits that result from the receipt of peer feedback and the learning mechanisms activated through producing feedback reviews for peers.

In summary:

  • It enables the development of critical reflection skills and the ability to give constructive feedback to peers.
  • It enables students to gain initial feedback on their work, and in a timely manner, that they can respond to in future assignments.
  • It enables students to engage with assessment criteria and internalise them for application in their own work.

There are many opportunities to engage students in peer feedback:

  • Examples of whole or sections of essays (strong, average and weaker ones) can be given to students to peer-mark and discuss.
  • Students are asked to develop the criteria by which formative assignments (e.g. a presentation, a poster presentation or a blog or web-derived bibliography) are assessed, either by peer(s) and/or the teacher.
  • Students are asked to identify one or two specific areas they would like feedback on for a particular piece of work from a peer or peer study group.
  • When students are observing presentations by their peers they can complete a simple feedback form, which are passed on to the presenters at the end of the session.

Many of the above suggestions for feedback can be supported online through Moodle.

Dr Flora Cornish (Department of Methodology) provides a useful case study outlining how students used TEAMMATES software to provide peer feedback on presentations. 


Barker, M. and Pinard, M. (2014) “Closing the feedback loop? Iterative feedback between tutor and student in coursework assessments.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 39, No. 8, pp.899-915. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.875985

Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning, Routledge. https://visible-learning.org/

Hattie, J. and Timperley, H. (2007) “The Power of Feedback” Review of Educational Research. Vol. 77, No. 1, pp.81–112. https://doi-org.gate3.library.lse.ac.uk/10.3102/003465430298487

Nicol, D. and Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) “Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice.” Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.199-218. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070600572090

Nicol, D., Thomson, A. and Breslin, C. (2013) “Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: a peer review perspective” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol.39, No. 1, pp. 102 – 122. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.795518

Lunt, T. and Curran, J. (2010) “Are you listening please? The advantages of electronic audio feedback compared to written feedback.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 35, No. 7, pp.759-769. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602930902977772

Winstone, N. E., Nash, R. A., Parker, M. and Rowntree, J. (2017) “Supporting Learners' Agentic Engagement With Feedback: A Systematic Review and a Taxonomy of Recipience Processes” Educational Psychologist, Vol. 52, No.1, pp.17-37. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2016.1207538

Withey, C. (2013) “Feedback engagement: forcing feed-forward amongst law students.” The Law Teacher, Vol. 47, pp.319-344. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069400.2013.851336