The conundrum of effective feedback.

In a series of posts on feedback we will explore the different approaches to what effective feedback might look like. This post will give some ideas around feedback as a dialogic process. 

Beaumont et al. (2011) identified two themes which constituted important elements for students to view feedback as constructive: a system of guidance which gave reassurance and a system of student-teacher dialogue (written or verbal). Feedback in this sense is viewed neither as an isolated event, nor a summative judgement of performance, but as a series of opportunities for a discussion which identifies areas of improvement and scaffolds the student to help achieve higher grades. A number of researchers have made the case for a dialogical context for written feedback which is:

  1. Understandable: expressed in a language that students will understand
  2. Selective: commenting in reasonable detail on two or three things that the student can do something about
  3. Specific: pointing to instances in the student’s submission where the feedback applies
  4. Timely: provided in time to improve the next assignment
  5. Contextualised: framed with reference to the learning outcomes and/or assessment criteria
  6. Non-judgemental: descriptive rather than evaluative, focused on learning goals not just performance goals
  7. Balanced: pointing out the positive as well as areas in need of improvement
  8. Forward looking: suggesting how students might improve subsequent assignments
  9. Transferable: focused on processes, skills and self-regulatory processes not just on knowledge content
  10. Personal: referring to what is already known about the student and her or his previous work


From these guidelines Beaumont et al. have devised a dialogic feedback cycle model:

Screenshot 2018-09-14 16.15.34

Beaumont et al. (2011) Reconceptualising assessment feedback: a key to improving student learning?.

Nottingham Trent University (2013) Feedback as a dialogic process.

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