Student Assessment - Feedback

Overview | Timing | Amount | Manner | Content

Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, especially in online context. Online feedback is different than face-to-face feedback. It should be more specific and evidence-based. It is important to refer students to other resources, links, examples, and artifacts.

Effective online feedback should:

  • be timely
  • be in an appropriate amount (not overwhelming)
  • be communicated in the right manner
  • describe specific qualities of the work in relation to the learning objectives
  • foster student confidence by drawing connections between students' work and their efforts
  • avoid comparing students
  • provide constructive comments
  • make suggestions for improvement


Online feedback strategies can vary in several dimensions: timing, amount, manner, and content.

The purpose of giving immediate feedback is to help students use it. Feedback needs to come when students still remember the topic, assignment, or performance in question.

Tip for right timing

  • Make a special effort to catch up with feedback responsibilities
  • You can sometimes provide summary feedback to a group of students' questions and problems instead of writing individual emails whenever problem or question occurs

Some teachers tend to "fix" everything they see when providing feedback, with good intention for students to achieve all learning goals. But for real learning, only a small amount of information is useful to connect what students already know with what and how they can improve.

Tips for right amount

Judging the right amount of feedback to give by considering:

  • The topic in general and your learning objectives
  • Typical developmental learning progressions for those topics or targets
  • Your individual students


Feedback can be communicated in many manners, including written feedback, audio/video feedback, demonstrations, and etc. The manner of feedback should be determined by tools, time avaliable, and the students' reading ability. Most Learning Management systems now allow audio and video feedback to be uploaded and shared. There are also various web tools that can be used to annotate documents, PDFs, images and videos, please refer to IC Quicktip series for specific instroduction of each tool.

Tips for right manner

  • Audio feedback is suitable when the points are relatively simple and when you want to eatablish a personal rapport with the student
  • Provide feedback in plain language so that students can comprehend


Gives students information about how they approached the task and the quality of their performance, rather than only focus on the grade they received. It would be useful to provide possible alternative strategies for them to improve their performance.

Tips for right content

  • Describe how the strengths in a student's work match the criteria for evaluating their work
  • Do not state what is wrong without offering suggestions for improvement