Table of Contents

The Effectiveness of Feedback

There is abundant research clearly indicating that feedback is one of the most powerful positive influences on students’ academic achievement (Hattie 2009). In Unit 5, we read a quote from Black and Wiliam (2009) about the power of interactive dialogue and feedback that moves learning forward. In this section, we will examine what makes feedback effective.

In his book titled, Transformative Assessment in Action (2008), Popham describes some of the characteristics that make feedback effective:

  • It needs to be given to students as quickly as possible in a useful format.
  • Errors and mistakes should be treated as helpful indicators of what needs to be worked on.
  • It should be descriptive and focus on areas of both strength and weakness.
  • It should include suggestions about ways students might address their weaknesses.


Adding to this, Chappuis points out that the quality of feedback determines its effectiveness. In her book titled, Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning (2009), she distills the research into six characteristics of effective feedback:

  1. Focuses attention on the learning, not the student
  2. Occurs during learning, while there is still time to act on it
  3. Addresses partial understanding
  4. Does not do the thinking for the student; does not give total solutions or next steps
  5. Limits corrective information to the amount of advice on which the student can act
  6. Allows time for students to implement or act on the feedback