Teacher feedback literacy

In the last few years, student feedback literacy has become a hot topic but what about teacher feedback literacy? Without teacher feedback literacy, it is unlikely that more than a minority of students can achieve promising levels of feedback know-how.

Teacher feedback literacy is defined as the knowledge, expertise and dispositions to design feedback processes in ways which enable student uptake of feedback and seed the development of student feedback literacy. What elements of knowledge and understanding about feedback processes, and practical capacities for implementation might constitute teacher feedback literacy?

Teachers with well-developed feedback literacy design assessment environments in ways that facilitate effective feedback processes (design dimension); attend sensitively to the communicational and relational aspects of feedback with students (relational dimension); and manage pragmatic compromises in how feedback practicalities are handled (pragmatic dimension). The design dimension focuses on how teachers design assessment and feedback so that students have opportunities to use any feedback that is generated. The relational dimension represents the interpersonal side of feedback exchanges and recognizes that feedback is a communicative act needing trust, sensitivity and sincerity. The pragmatic dimension addresses how teachers manage the practicalities of disciplinary and institutional feedback practices, including a need to focus workloads in areas where they can have most impact. Digital affordances play important roles in facilitating all three dimensions, including the storage and retrieval of feedback inputs; peer or teacher video feedback for social presence; and the timeliness, efficiency and portability of digital content.

Principles of partnership and shared responsibilities underpin the interplay between teacher and student feedback literacy because feedback processes require investment from both parties. Teachers can reflect on and refine their own feedback designs by appreciating students’ perspectives on feedback. Students can, in turn, inform teacher development of feedback literacy by sharing their challenges in using feedback information.

Key reading:

Carless, D. & N. Winstone (2020). Teacher feedback literacy and its interplay with student feedback literacy. Teaching in Higher Education.