How to Provide Effective Feedback to Students

Providing feedback is just one of the many jobs that teachers do to help guide students onto the path of success. It is essential as it can give a better explanation as to how a student is doing rather than just a mark on some paper.

Comprehensive feedback allows the student to think critically about the choices they have given and consider a point of view they may not have done so originally. Teachers should take the time to know how to deliver feedback effectively in a way that allows students to do just this.

What is Good Feedback?

Feedback is the practice of communicating how well a student’s performance on an assignment or test was. Good feedback is being able to do it effectively so that the student understands and takes your feedback and comments on-board.

Good feedback uses words that aren’t necessarily negative, but more descriptive and genuine in a way that a student wouldn’t feel the need to be sad or defensive. Feedback should be very specific to the student and written in a way you know they will understand.

Finally, good feedback should be administered to a student in response to their work in a timely fashion, and not delivered so late that the student doesn’t even remember the answers they’ve given or why!

How to Provide Feedback

There are a few different ways to approach the feedback process:

Be Affirmative On What is Right

Feedback is never just about the negatives. It should always include the positives and reassure students that they’re on the right path with their thinking. This means avoiding sweeping generalisations like “Good work!” Even if it is good work, you should take the time to explain what made it so.

An example would be mentioning on a student’s paper that you liked the level of detail that they gave, or that you particularly noticed they used their time wisely on a project.

Correcting and Explaining

This is the most popular form of feedback because it works, and mistakes need to be corrected. It is inevitable that students will make mistakes. It’s part of learning! But instead of marking a big ‘X’ and going to the next, explain why they got the answer wrong and direct their thought process onto the right path.

A student could be talking about the water cycle but fails to mention what water does to go from one phase to the next. In the feedback, it should be mentioned that they left this out and explained what it is they should have added in their presentation so that everyone can understand what happens.

Go Through The Process

Many questions have a thought process behind them, and students are encouraged to show their work to see how they came up with their answer. This allows the teacher to see where the student’s thinking is going. If an answer is wrong, then go through the steps to see if you can determine where it went wrong.

It may be a silly mistake that needs correcting and explaining, but it also may need a better explanation in order to help the student understand the process better, see where they went wrong and prepare them for the next assignment. This is especially helpful with science and mathematics assignments.


Encourage students to have a look at their own assignments and give themselves feedback, looking at what they can do better next time. This, of course, is only suitable for older students who are experienced and have the eye for looking critically at their own work.

Feedback is necessary and can help students develop. It enhances their learning process and gives them the skills to think critically in the future.

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