Providing Feedback

Why Feedback?

Feedback provides information to the student about how well they are progressing towards a goal or whether they have met an outcome. The key is focusing on areas of improvement in a constructive, not destructive, manner.

Types of Feedback

Constructive feedback offers corrective, or instructional, recommendations to improve performance. In some cases it may be substantial, and more minor in others. All feedback should always contain something for the student to strive towards.

Destructive feedback is non-progressive and generally elicits negative reactions or perceptions of worth.

instructor providing feedback to student
Source: “Teacher discussing her lesson with her student” by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Good feedback:

  • Helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards)
  • Facilitates the development of self-assessment (reflection) in learning
  • Delivers high quality information to students about their learning
  • Encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning
  • Encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
  • Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance
  • Provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape teaching.
    (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006)

Delivering Effective Feedback

There are several keys to delivering effective feedback.

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In an online environment, feedback can be provided through written annotation directly on work submitted, video recording using a tool such as Flipgrid or Loom, or using verbal feedback through audio software embedded within, or outside of, your LMS, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or Loom.

When providing written feedback, think about the “sandwich method”

positive constructive positive
Credit: Durham College Centre for Teaching and Learning

Try to provide a minimum of one sentence for each ‘layer’ and aim to start or end with a positive comment that allows the student to feel good about their learning, knowledge and/or understanding, or acknowledges their effort.
Idea Icon

When providing feedback on authentic assessments, leverage professional expectations to demonstrate the link between what they are doing, how they completed it and to what degree/level, and what they would be expected to complete relative to professional roles and responsibilities. Where possible, it is best to also make connections to the use of professional resources and websites, and how those resources could have been best leveraged for the assessment.

Encouraging Reflective Self-Assessment and Feedback

Encouraging students to self-assess their work using a guided structure, prior to submission, offers them the opportunity to identify gaps, expand ideas, correct citation errors, incorporate formative feedback, and compare their submission to the assessment requirements as specified in the rubric, checklist and/or instructions.

This assessment should be framed around 3 distinct questions:

  • Where Am I Going?
  • Where Am I Now?
  • Where To Next?
Click on the “?” icon to reveal guiding prompts for each of these questions.


Adapted from (CSAA West Ed, 2021)

Providing students with a graphic organizer that directs them to critically review their work, or asking them to assess their work against the assessment rubric and having them submit that with their work, will encourage purposeful reflection on their attention to instructions, position relative to the target, and degree of effort put forth in completing the task.

Peer Review

students working together on computer
Source: “Woman and man sitting in front of monitor” by Lagos Techie from Unsplash

Peer review can be used to provide formative feedback on the building blocks of a larger assessment, to communicate performance and engagement in group work, or to facilitate course evaluation for lower stakes assessments. Ideally, peer review for any assessment would be completed anonymously, and by more than one reviewer, to obtain the most objective and valuable perspective and recommendations.

Providing students the opportunity to have their assessment reviewed by peers prior to final submission offers a number of advantages for both the student and the assessor(s).

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Peer review and feedback can be quite successful and a valuable learning experience; however, setting students up for success in peer review activities through a solid foundation will be key.

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Establish expectations around conduct.

Collect assessments and remove identifiers before distributing for peer review.

Develop clear directions and a rubric or set of guidelines with criteria to guide the peer review process.

Model good feedback practices.

Start small.

Single-point rubric

Rubrics, checklists, and rating scales can all be used for peer review as long as the criteria outlined are clear and specific so they are simple for the students to follow.  Reviewers can use the actual grading rubric or checklist for the assessment, as provided by the instructor, or one can be created that is specific to the peer review process. This may be a multiple performance level rubric (as illustrated in the prior section on rubrics) or can be a single point rubric that simply asks for strengths and concerns. Cambrian College demonstrates the characteristics of a single point rubric:

strengths - evidence of exceeding expectations, criteria - standards for this assessment, concerns - areas for improvement, detailed description of a single criterion
Credit: Cambrian College
The “Criteria” or standards for assessment are in the middle column. Each row contains a detailed description of a single criterion. To the left is a column for “Strengths” or evidence of exceeding expectations. To the right is a column for “Concerns” or areas for improvement.

Explore these sample templates for a single point rubric. Sample 1 and Sample 2


A stop-start-continue could also be used, but is less focused on specific criteria or components of the assessment, and is, rather, a reflection of the assessment as a whole:

stop start continue template for peer feedback
Credit: Durham College Centre for Teaching and Learning.
In this table, work still to be done is listed under “Stop” (errors or low quality) and “Start” (omissions, expansions, or clarifications). Work that meets or exceeds expectations is listed under “Continue” (meeting or exceeding).

Introducing peer review into specific assignments grants students the opportunity to view, and have their work viewed, through a new lens, offering a fresh perspective. Student and reviewer anonymity and a guided process are the cornerstones to building a successful peer review component into assessments.

Check Your Understanding



Identify an assessment in your course, or one that you are developing, and create a peer feedback tool such as a rubric (single or multiple point), checklist or stop-start-continue, and generate an exemplar that could be shared with peer reviewers. Share this tool, along with the associated assignment, with a colleague. Does your tool touch all of the important points on the assessment to facilitate improvement in student performance? Does the exemplar clearly demonstrate best practice with providing feedback?


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Rethinking Assessment Strategies for Online Learning Copyright © 2022 by Seneca College; Durham College; Algonquin College; and University of Ottawa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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