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The Potential Power of Feedback

In my last blog I called on all students to learn beyond the bell and accept increasing amounts of responsibility for their own learning by actively engaging in the resources and opportunities available at Ambrose Treacy College.

I would like to explore this subject further by unpacking the important role students play in the feedback or feed-forward process to improve academic outcomes. There is a considerable body of research around the role of feedback in supporting learning and evidence of what constitutes good and effective practice. Effective feedback practices can almost double the average student growth over a school year. The aim of feedback is to close the gap between where the students are at and where teachers believe their potential lies. Feedback closes this gap by informing students about where they are in relation to their learning goals while also providing strategies for improvement.

One potential constraint in the feedback process is that it can be seen as the end of the learning cycle rather than a step in an ongoing process of development. Often assessment feedback is received towards the end of the course and there may be no immediate opportunity to apply the feedback. Feedback can only enhance student learning fully if students respond to the information by using it their next assessment opportunity – feed-forward.

While feedback focuses on current performance, feed-forward involves students implementing change to achieve the standard. This process involves creating a feedback loop in a sequence demonstrated in the image above or through the assignment drafting process draft – comment – revise – resubmit!!

A combination of feedback and feed-forward ensures assessment has an effective developmental impact on learning. However, I challenge students to continue to develop their own evaluative skills in order to use feedback effectively.

Effective questions for students to ask themselves:

1. Where am I going? (Learning objectives/Success criteria)
2. How am I going? (Self-assessment and Self-evaluation)
3. Where to next? (Progression, New goal)

Responding to feedback

1. Tell your teacher whether you understand your feedback or not.
2. Tell your teacher what you will do/have done to improve.
3. Answer any questions that your teacher has asked you to respond to.


Dallas Moffat
Student Development and Learning Analytics