Summative feedback, i.e. feedback on a completed performance, is less efficient than formative feedback, i.e. feedback provided in the course of a process. The reason is that feedback during a process can take place in a dialogue with both teachers and fellow students, which makes it easier to ensure that the student has understood the feedback. Students are also more likely to use the feedback when it can help improve the quality of their work in progress.
For you as a teacher it may be an advantage to combine formative and summative feedback, for instance by using peer feedback during the process and giving your feedback on the final performance.
Feedback is often described as information to students about their performance or comprehension. Therefore, assessment during a course provides obvious and important opportunities for the students to receive feedback. Feedback should include three elements that answer three different questions:
In other words, the learning objectives and criteria on which the assessment of the assignment or performance are based are key issues here as they form the basis for the feedback. You must therefore speak to your students about these criteria and make it clear to them how they can meet the criteria at different levels.
Feedback can be a time-consuming learning activity, and with many students or small budgets it may be difficult for teachers to find time for thorough feedback. Moreover, students may become dependent on other people’s evaluation if they only receive feedback from their teacher. A combination of feedback from the teacher and from fellow students (peer feedback) is therefore recommended and may solve both problems. It is important that the teacher sets the framework for peer feedback so that the students know what learning objectives they should base their feedback on and how much time they should spend on the feedback activity.
Another important challenge is that the students do not always understand the feedback from the teacher, which may mean that they do not translate the feedback into action. This is why feedback should be organised as a dialogue.