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Giving Feedback: Research and Resources

Giving Feedback: Research and Resources

Eliciting and evaluating responses from others to what we say or do.

[Note: Feedback is important in many forms and directions. Therefore, this list of resources includes valuable materials addressing both teacher-to-student and student-to-teacher feedback.]


Classroom Assessment Techniques - The National Teaching and Learning Forum

Provides an overview and examples of Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) one can use to continually close the loop with one's students and exchange with them frequent, low-stakes feedback.

Minimal Marking

Description of a very simple but powerful way to mark students papers that "shortens, gladdens, and improves the act of marking papers."

Providing audio feedback in Microsoft Word - Brigham Young University

Step-by-step instructions on how to insert audio commentary into a Word document using Microsoft Word 2007.


Angelo, T.A., & Cross, P.K. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This book is a must-browse for any college teacher who wants to improve their teaching. Filled with 50 specific ideas for how to get different kinds of feedback from your students via Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT), its very simple ideas can revolutionize the teacher-student relationship.

Irons, A. (2007). Enhancing learning through formative assessment and feedback. New York: Routledge.

A book with practical suggestions for using both teacher-student and student-student feedback throughout the semester. In addition to practical suggestions, "time-out" sections in each chapter pose thoughtful questions about why one does things a certain way in the classroom, and what we really want to accomplish when we do it.

Sorcinelli, M. & Elbow, P. (Eds.), (1997). New directions for teaching and learning: No. 69. Writing to learn: Strategies for assessing and responding to writing across the discipline. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

A thought-provoking collection of chapters about writing in both high-stakes and low-stakes contexts. With both conceptual and practical insights, the volume focuses on how to embed writing throughout the learning process in many ways, instead of only expecting an end-of-semester summative essay.


Bridge, P., & Appleyard, R. (2008). A comparison of electronic and paper-based assignment submission and feedback. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(4), 644-650.

The authors investigated how students perceived the experience of receiving feedback on an essay assignment that were submitted and returned electronically through Blackboard or via tradition paper-based copies. Results indicated that:

  • 56% of students acknowledged a preference for electronic feedback, compared to only 6% noting a specific preference for paper-based feedback.
  • 93% of students felt the electronic format resulted in receiving quicker feedback when compared to traditional feedback marked on hard copies of their assignment.
  • Students appreciated the ability to be able to print out feedback from instructors in the electronic format condition.
  • Students appreciated the accessibility of electronic feedback, as well as the fact that they did not need to worry about losing instructors comments.

Diamond, M.R. (2004). The use of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 217-231.

Over two years, 82 Small Group Instructional Diagnoses (SGIDs) were conducted for staff in a range of disciplines. End-of-term surveys of participating lecturers revealed that this procedure increased their understanding of how students respond to their instructional methods. As a result, lecturers refined grading procedures, implemented new approaches to conducting classes, clarified their expectations of students, and refocused content emphasis. They also indicated that they intended to amend the way they teach future courses in an effort to increase effectiveness.

Iding, M.K. (1994). Feedback from college composition students: Are teachers' comments useful? College Student Journal, 28, 330-338.

The authors sought to investigate what type of instructor comments students in a writing class found most useful in regards to future drafts of written assignments. In addition, the authors present a review of research into this topic. Results of the literature indicated:

  • Positive comments are more effective than negative comments.
  • Specific comments are more useful.
  • Comments that are meaningful, such as those focused on content and structure, are more useful than comments focused on grammar, etc.
  • Complete comments versus single word or abbreviated words are more effective.
  • Comments should be connected to instructional issues.
  • Comments should be connected to goals for the class.

Results of the author's study indicate:

  • The most useful comment to students was asking for additional information or elaboration on an issue.
  • Positive comments are effective in prompting changes.
  • Comments on the global structure of student work were useful.

Lang, J.W.B., & Kersting, M. (2006). Regular feedback from student ratings of instruction: Do college teachers improve their ratings in the long run? Instructional Science, 35(3), 51-69.

The authors investigated whether feedback from student ratings improves college instructors' teaching in subsequent semesters, as evidenced by an increase in future student ratings of instruction. This study was unique, as the instructors utilized in the study had not previously utilized student ratings of instruction and thus a true baseline condition was available. Student ratings were collective over four consecutive semesters for use in the study. Results indicated:

  • Student ratings of instructors increased from the baseline semester of first receiving this feedback to the subsequent semester. That is, instructors appeared to use student feedback to improve teaching.
  • However, student ratings of instructors in the study gradually declined from the second semester to the fourth semester, indicating that effects of student feedback from a long-term perspective are less effective. One explanation for this effect is that the result of a rapid improvement from initial student feedback leads to a ceiling effect where future increase in ratings in less noticeable in subsequent semesters.

Lee, G., Schallert, D.L. (2008). Meeting in the margins: Effects of the teacher-student relationship on revision processes of EFL college students taking a composition course. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17. 165-182.

A fascinating comparison of case studies in the extent to which a trusting relationship between the teacher and students correlated with the student actually improving their writing over the course of the semester, as opposed to the writing of a student who did not trust the teacher as much. The authors argue that establishing a trusting relationship is fundamental to teacher's feedback actually being used to improve student writing, and that this should be considered in any theoretical modeling of the revision process.

Sipple, S. (2007). Ideas in practice: Developmental writers' attitudes toward audio and written feedback. Journal of Developmental Education, 30(3), 22-31.

The authors explored student perceptions of providing feedback via a written versus audio formats. In this study, feedback was given on two written essay assignments within an undergraduate writing class. Results indicated:

  • 70% of students preferred audio feedback compared to 21% preferring written feedback
  • Reasons for preferring audio feedback included 1) increased self-confidence in writing ability, 2) increased motivation, 3) helped students internalize feedback, 4) provided more detailed feedback, and 5) reduced students' misinterpretation of feedback.

Sweet, M., Wright, C., & Michaelsen, L.K. (2008). Simultaneous report: A reliable method to stimulate class discussion. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education 6(2), 469-473.

This brief article describe how adding a bit more structure to a traditional "think-pair-share" exercise can increase the commitments students make to their initial answers and therefore the engagement generated when everyone reveals their answers to each other, simultaneously. Presenting students (usually in groups) with significant questions that force them to make a specific choice and simultaneously report their answers can be done in several formats (e.g., "hold up a card," "clickers," or "gallery walk") as described by the article.

Treglia, M. (2008). Feedback on Feedback: Exploring Student Responses to Teachers' Written Commentary. Journal of Basic Writing, 27(1), 105-137.

This qualitative study investigated undergraduate students' responses to written feedback on several writing assignments. This article provides insight into what students found helpful and not helpful in regards to instructor feedback. Results indicated:

  • the majority of students found that preceding a criticism with a positive statement and/or qualifying words such as "maybe" or "perhaps" was helpful (mitigating language).
  • Students appreciated comments that conveyed trust in their writing ability
  • Students appreciated comments that provided a sense of direction for the student to follow up on.