Changing feedback practices

Despite sustained research interest, feedback processes seem largely resistant to change (Dawson et al., 2019). Below are six principles with a short commentary underneath each one, outlining how we might work towards productive change in feedback practices.

  1. Focus feedback designs on enhancing meaningful student learning;
    This seems obvious but feedback practices are often constrained by accountability forces in avoiding challenge or complaint, so the pedagogical salience of feedback needs reclaiming (cf. Winstone & Carless, 2021). Worthwhile feedback processes need to be designed carefully. How might teachers most profitably focus feedback designs on enhancing student learning?

  2. Integrate sound learning principles within innovative forms of feedback;
    To what extent are developments in artificial intelligence going to revolutionize feedback? The potential of chatbots, such as ChatGPT, needs to be integrated with feedback designs, involving students generating, curating and working productively with feedback inputs of various forms. How can students be guided to make principled use of the variety of AI-generated feedback possibilities that are emerging?

  3. Cater for students’ perspectives on feedback;
    Feedback processes are for students, so need to recognize and account for their agency, needs and emotional reactions. Teachers need to appreciate students’ struggles even if we don’t always fully agree with them. What timing and modes of feedback are most conductive to student follow-up? How can teachers balance supportiveness and critique?

  4. Emphasize student agency in feedback processes;
    Learners need to be active in seeking, generating, processing and using feedback inputs. Generating peer feedback enables the development of evaluative judgment, and leverages comparisons between own work and that of others. How can teachers best facilitate student agency?

  5. Enable workload-saving feedback processes for teachers;
    There is a lot of wasted teacher effort in feedback inputs that are not downloaded by students. We should reduce ineffective forms of commentary that come too late for student action. What feedback inputs might be curtailed and what might be developed further to make teachers’ work more satisfying?

  6. Develop supportive teams working on enhancing feedback practices;
    Enhancing feedback processes is enabled through collaborative activities: working in teams; experimenting with different practices; sharing and discussion of innovative digital or AI-generated modes of feedback; and reflecting together on the value and impact of feedback practices. How can collaborative work amongst teachers be most fruitfully leveraged?


Dawson, P., Henderson, M., Mahoney, P., Phillips, M., Ryan, T., et al. (2019). What makes for effective feedback: Staff and student perspectives. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(1), 25-36.

Winstone, N., & Carless, D. (2021). Who is feedback for? The influence of accountability and quality assurance agendas on the enactment of feedback processes. Assessment in Education 28(3), 261-278.