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Feedback motivates students because they receive information about their learning process. Feedback also provides the students with some concreate goals to aim for and reduces their trial-and-error learning, which in combination improves their performance.


Feedback as dialogue

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.

Video: David Boud's definition of student-centered feedback

Why feedback?

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:

  1. Feed Back: Where am I? Informs the students how their performance relates to learning objectives and quality criteria.
  2. Feed Up: Where am I heading? Information about the learning objectives and quality criteria applying to the concrete assignment or performance.
  3. Feed Forward: How do I get there? Specific suggestions for tools and methods that may improve student performance and bring them closer to the learning objectives and quality criteria.

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.


Teachers should ask themselves the following questions:

  • When and how often should the feedback be given during the learning process?
  • Do the students know the purpose of feedback and their role(s) in the process?
  • Can students make sense of the information they recieve?
  • Do the students know how to take action based on the feedback?
  • What effects should we be looking for to ensure the feedback process has worked?


David Boud’s advice on how to give good feedback

  1. Making comments on a paper or grade isn’t feedback.
  2. Feedback must point forward.
  3. Good feedback requires dialogue and involvement on the part of the student.
  4. Feedback must be provided in time for the student to implement it in their work. 
  5. Learning to ask for specific feedback benefits students.



    Examples of practice

      Teaching plans

      Under development

      Further reading

      • Lynn, S. F. & Fuch, D. (1986): Effects of systematic formative evaluation. A Meta-analysis. Exceptional Children. Vol. 53, pp. 199-208
      • Crooks, T. J. (1988): The Impact of Classroom Evaluation on Students. Review of Educational Reseach. Vol 58, No 4, pp 438-481.
      • Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998): Assessment and Classroom Learning. Assessment in Education, 1, 7-74.
      • 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.
      • Wiliam, D. (2015) Løbende formativ vurdering. DAFOLO.
      • Sejerskilde, M. J. I. (2023): Studerende vil have mere, undervisere synes, de giver mere end nok: Derfor har vi brug for en feedback-revolution. Omnibus.au.dk.


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