Guideline:  Give specific, timely feedback.

Formative feedback is defined as information communicated to the learner that is intended to modify the learner’s thinking or behavior for the purpose of improving learning. Giving students formative feedback regarding how well they are achieving intended learning outcomes will assist them to direct their learning efforts.

Shute, V.J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153-189. DOI: 10.3102/0034654307313795

Studies of adaptive expertise, learning, transfer, and early development show that feedback is extremely important (see Chapters 2,3,and 4). Students’ thinking must be made visible (through discussions, papers, or tests), and feedback must be provided. Given the goal of learning with understanding, assessments and feedback must focus on understanding, and not only on memory for procedures or facts. Opportunities for feedback should occur continuously, but not intrusively, as a part of instruction. Effective teachers continually attempt to learn about their students’ thinking and understanding.

Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R.R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and schoo., Washington, DC : National Academy Press.


Additional Resources

Nicol, D. (2010). Good designs for written feedback for students. In McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers, M. Svinicki & W.J. McKeachie, eds. , (13th ed), 108-123, New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Fluckiger, J., Tixier y Virgil, Y., Pasco, R. J., & Danielson, K.E. (2010). Formative feedback: Involving students as partners in assessment to enhance learning. Teacher Education Faculty Publications, 64. Retrieved at

Nicol, D.J.,  & Macfarlane‐Dick, D. (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

Weaver, M.R. (2006). Do students value feedback? Student perceptions of tutors’ written responses. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(3), 379–394.

Orsmond, P., Merry, S., & Reiling, K.  (2005). Biology students’ utilization of tutors’ formative feedback: A qualitative interview study. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 30(4), 369-386.


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