Developing Student Feedback Literacy

Decorative: A feedback diagram


"Feedback Literacy: Activating Student Learning Potential" (article) "introduces the concept of student feedback literacy and suggests practical ways in which students can become actively involved in using feedback to enhance their learning."

A. What Is Feedback?

  • "[F]eedback is a process through which learners make sense of comments from teachers or peers and use them to enhance their work or learning strategies."
  • "Implicit in this definition are both the central role of students and the need for action in response to comments."

B. Four Features Essential to Students’ Feedback Literacy 

1. "Appreciating feedback—Students need to be motivated to appreciate feedback processes and see their value."

  • "[W]hen major assignments are due at the end of courses, there is little opportunity for students to make use of any feedback they might receive ... it is more of a grading and accountability exercise than one that promotes improvement."
  • To "encourage students to use the feedback provided ... design curriculum and assessment in ways that facilitate it."
  • "One method is teacher feedback on a mid-semester assignment followed by a second parallel end-of-semester assignment, with students incorporating feedback from the first to improve the second."
  • "This kind of formative assessment helps students identify learning gaps and understand what they need to do to improve."

2. "Making judgments—Students need sustained practice in making sound academic judgments about their own work and that of others."

  • Peer feedback provides "opportunities for dialogue; the process involves learning to make judgments; and there is potential for student action on comments received."
  • "[T]eachers [must] provide sufficient training and support [so] students ... understand how to do it properly or fully appreciate its benefits."

  • "Training clarifies purposes and guidelines for peer feedback, ... it helps students gain experience in generating or using rubrics ... [and it] also provides opportunities to address students’ concerns about peer feedback."

  • "Teachers can discuss with students useful and not so useful examples of peer feedback." 

3. "Managing emotions—Students need to minimize defensive emotional reactions to critical feedback and see it as a tool for improvement."

  • "Feedback is a social practice influenced by relationships between participants."
  • "Teachers need to create course climates where peer feedback can flourish."
  • "Feedback thrives when participants share a sense of mutual improvement in a supportive, open, and trusting atmosphere."

4. "Taking action"—Students need to act on feedback to improve their work, or even better their learning strategies."

  • "Curriculum design and related learning activities should enable a core feature of student feedback literacy: the need for uptake."
  • "In subsequent work, students should be prompted to show how they have used previous comments."
  • "On their assignment cover sheet, for example, students could be required to summarize which aspects of previous feedback they are addressing in the current assignment."

Cales, David. "Feedback Literacy: Activating Student Learning Potential." Teaching Professor 2 October 2018.

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