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    The Purpose of Assessment Feedback and How Teachers Can Ace It

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    The Purpose of Assessment Feedback and How Teachers Can Ace It

    Feedback is an essential element in assuring our students' growth progress. The fact is the feedback we give can, in many ways, make or break the will to develop lifelong learning skills.

    Great assessment feedback can push our students to excel in ways they didn’t know they could. Proper feedback should enable and inspire. It should make our students feel good about where they are, and get them excited about where they can go.

    Assessment feedback that works is:

    • Timely: We must give it often and in detail during learning for it to be effective.
    • Appropriate and reflective: It should reflect their abilities, maturity, and age. Also, they must be able to fully understand it in their own way.
    • Honest and supportive: The goal is to always give feedback that’s honest and supportive. It’s the kind of feedback that will make the student want to continue.
    • Focused on learning: Any feedback we give must always be linked to the purpose of the task. Beyond being constructive, it should be both actionable and tied to the specific learning objectives students are reaching for.
    • Enabling: Students must have opportunities to utilize what the feedback we give is meant to teach them. Students can also thrive on constructive feedback from their peers.

    This article on student feedback contains seven useful approaches and ideas that can help you give students your most useful and constructive assessment feedback. 

    Assessment Feedback the Nyquist Way

    You can also benefit from a brief summary of Dr. Jodie Nyquist’s feedback model (2003). Even though it’s designed for higher ed, it matches quite well with every educational level.

    1. Knowledge of Results (KoR): This is the weakest form of feedback in which students are simply made aware of their result.
    2. Knowledge of Correct Results (KCR): Now the learner can compare their answers and the correct ones. That said, there is still no explanation of why their answers are right or wrong, and no chance to improve their performance. 
    3. Knowledge of Correct Results and Explanation: Now we’re getting somewhere. If a teacher provides an explanation of the difference between a student’s results and the correct answers, this is the start of much more powerful feedback. 
    4. KCR + e and Specific Actions to Reduce the Gap: This next stage is even more actionable than the last. We’ve now given them ideas for specific actions that they can take to improve their performance.
    5. KCR+e and Activity: The student is provided with KCR+e, specific steps that reduce the gap, and an activity that reinforces the processes, skills, concepts, or learning. Because of this, the student and teacher grow together.

    A Visual Take on Assessment Feedback

    This infographic was sourced from Elearning Infographics. It's based on information given in a recent talk by Ann Wilson on optimizing assessment feedback by focusing on these four questions:

    • Why do we give feedback?
    • What are the challenges with giving useful feedback?
    • How can we address these challenges?
    • How will you move forward?


    Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

    Originally published Feb 10, 2017, updated Dec 16, 2021

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