Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice

Mar 5, 2024 | Assessment

Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice

by Drew Perkins, Director of ThoughtStretchers Education

Feedback is an essential component of the learning process, providing students with valuable insights into their progress and guiding them toward improvement. However, not all feedback is created equal. Effective feedback goes beyond mere correction; it empowers students to take ownership of their learning and regulate their performance.

Drawing from the self-regulation model and extensive research on formative assessment, David J. Nicol and Debra Macfarlane‐Dick identified seven key principles that constitute good feedback practice, each contributing to the enhancement of students’ self-regulatory abilities.

1. Clarification of Performance Standards: Good feedback practice begins with setting clear expectations. It elucidates what constitutes exemplary performance by defining goals, criteria, and expected standards. When students have a precise understanding of what is expected of them, they can better gauge their progress and adjust their efforts accordingly.

2. Fostering Self-Assessment: Effective feedback encourages students to become reflective learners. By prompting them to evaluate their own work against established criteria, it cultivates self-assessment skills. Through reflection, students gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses, leading to informed decision-making and continuous improvement.

3. Provision of High-Quality Information: Feedback should deliver meaningful and actionable insights into students’ learning. It goes beyond generic praise or criticism, offering specific and constructive comments tailored to individual needs. High-quality information equips students with the knowledge required to refine their strategies and enhance their performance.

4. Facilitation of Dialogue: Feedback should not be a one-way communication channel but rather a catalyst for dialogue. Encouraging interaction between teachers and students, as well as among peers, fosters a collaborative learning environment. Through dialogue, students can clarify misconceptions, seek clarification, and engage in discourse that deepens their understanding of the subject matter.

5. Promotion of Positive Motivation and Self-Esteem: Good feedback practice nurtures positive motivational beliefs and bolsters self-esteem. Recognizing students’ efforts, acknowledging their progress, and providing encouragement instills confidence and a sense of competence. Positive reinforcement motivates students to persist in their efforts and embrace challenges with enthusiasm.

6. Closing the Performance Gap: Feedback serves as a roadmap for bridging the disparity between current performance and desired outcomes. By pinpointing areas for improvement and suggesting strategies for enhancement, it empowers students to take proactive steps toward closing the gap. Incremental progress is celebrated, fostering a growth mindset and a commitment to continuous learning.

7. Informing Teaching Practices: Feedback is not only beneficial to students but also invaluable to teachers. It provides educators with valuable insights into students’ learning processes, allowing them to tailor instruction to meet individual needs effectively. By analyzing feedback data, teachers can refine their teaching approaches, modify instructional materials, and provide targeted support, thereby optimizing the learning experience for all students.

Good feedback practice is not merely about providing corrective guidance but rather about empowering students to become self-regulated learners. By adhering to the seven principles outlined above, educators can create an environment where feedback catalyzes growth, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and excellence in learning.

David J. Nicol Debra Macfarlane‐Dick (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31:2, 199-218, DOI: 10.1080/03075070600572090


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