This Is Feedback/OG

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This Is Feedback
Contributors Steven Warburton, Joseph Bergin, Christian Kohls, Christian Köppe, Yishay Mor
Last modification May 17, 2017
Source Warburton et al. (2016)[1][2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

Summary: For learners to act on feedback they first need to recognize when it has been given.


You use multiple opportunities to assess and evaluate your students’ performance and need give feedback across potentially varied formats. These might include essays, reports, role-plays, presentations and so on.


You spend time providing feedback to your students and want to maximize the impact on their grades and the satisfaction level of those attending your courses. There is a mismatch between you and your student’s perceptions of what constitutes feedback. The students become frustrated and do not value the course you are teaching as highly as you intend.

•There is a tendency to assume that when a tutor transmits feedback it is easily decoded and then translated into action.
• Confusion may occur over what constitutes a comment and what makes up a feedback statement.
• Individual feedback is demanded but tutor time is limited.
• Students are focused on grade improvement and try and make a direct link between feedback and final grade.
• The student often identifies feedback in the margins of written work as ‘corrections’.
• External pressures to improve feedback can come from module evaluation questionnaires that are completed by students, and have become tightly linked with managerial appraisals of staff performance.


Therefore sensitize learners to feedback by signalling or signposting feedback processes in advance. Students can only Act on Feedback (Act on Feedback) when they recognize that it has been given.

Solution details
There are number of techniques that can be adopted to clearly signpost that feedback is being given:
• Create a standardized feedback form;
• Use a ‘stamp’ to explicitly flag a statement as feedback;
• Use specific micro-feedback sessions to help label and identify when informal feedback is being given;
• Transfer verbal feedback to an audio recorded format[3];
• Provide each learner with a feedback portfolio.

Positive consequences

In the short term, learners will become more sensitive to formative feedback. Over the longer-term better course assessment marks should be achieved. This is only possible as long as the feedback is fit for purpose i.e. the giver is aware of the relevant aspects of formative feedback to make it meaningful to the receiver.

Watch out for

This can be a time consuming activity if it is not planned, as everything becomes a potential moment for giving feedback. Avoid over-formalization to protect the informal interactions that are so important in creating a safe space for discussion between peers, tutor and learners e.g. in small teaching settings where informal feedback is given during student presentations. At large scale Peer Review (Peer Review) may be more appropriate.


At the University of Surrey a standardized feedback form has been developed to help organize the feedback that the lecturer provides. This comprises three sections:

• What has been done well (in relation to the assessment criteria);

• How you may strengthen future work;

• General comments.

Hattie and Timperley[4] have used the phrase “know thy impact” when they talk about teaching. This idea arose from conversations Hattie held with his children following their day at school. When he asked “what did you learn today?” he was met with a confused look. But when he changed the question to “what feedback did you receive today?” he found it to be far more revealing.

Price et al.[5] draw on findings from a three-year study focused on student engagement with feedback. Their paper reveals the limited extent to which the effectiveness of feedback can be accurately measured and challenge many of the assumptions and beliefs about effectiveness of feedback practices. These relate to difficulties surrounding the multiple purposes of feedback, its temporal nature and the capabilities of evaluators. The paper proposes the learner as being in the best position to judge the effectiveness of feedback, but may not always recognize the benefits it provides. They argue, that the pedagogic literacy[6] of students is key to evaluation of feedback and feedback processes.

Related patterns

Used by Peer Review (Peer Review)

Leads to Act on Feedback (Act on Feedback)

You may give feedback as a Feedback Sandwich (Feedback Sandwich)[7].


  1. Patlet published in Warburton, S., Mor, Y., Kohls, C., Köppe, C., & Bergin, J. (2016). Assessment driven course design: a pattern validation workshop. Presented at 8th Biennial Conference of EARLI SIG 1: Assessment & Evaluation. Munich, Germany.
  2. Pattern published in Warburton, S., Bergin, J., Kohls, C., Köppe, C., & Mor, Y. (2016). Dialogical Assessment Patterns for Learning from Others. In Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP 2016). New York:ACM.
  3. Lunt, T., & Curran, J. (2010). ‘Are you listening please?’The advantages of electronic audio feedback compared to written feedback. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(7), 759-769.
  4. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of educational research, 77(1), 81-112.
  5. Price, M., Handley, K., Millar, J., & O'Donovan, B. (2010). Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect?. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(3), 277-289.
  6. Maclellan, E. (2008). Pedagogical literacy: What it means and what it allows. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(8), 1986-1992.
  7. Bergin, J., Eckstein, J., Völter, M., Sipos, M., Wallingford, E., Marquardt, K., Chandler, J., Sharp, H., and Manns, M.L. (2012). Pedagogical patterns: advice for educators. Joseph Bergin Software Tools.