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Part 2 - Tools for an Equitable Feedback System: Engaging with Criteria

This series of posts will cover a variety of bite-sized strategies that can be incorporated into a more holistic feedback system. To learn more about the research behind these approaches, we recommend you first read our white paper.

Part 1 - Feedback is Emotional

For feedback information to be useful, it must communicate: 
  • Where am I going? (What are the goals?)
  • How am I going? (What progress is being made toward the goal?)
  • Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?) (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). 
Supporting students in engaging with the grading criteria helps give context to the feedback to come. In other words, it does the groundwork of helping them determine for themselves, "Where am I going?"


  • Translating the Rubric: Even when we write our rubrics in student-friendly language we can't assume that they understand the intent of the criteria or what it will look like in application. I spend about ten minutes whenever I introduce a new project or assessment to split the class up into teams to translate the rubric into their own words. I check in with each group and clarify or elaborate on anything they identify as confusing or I identify as misinterpreted. 
  • Worked Examples: Research on Cognitive Load Theory tells is that asking a novice learner to interpret grading criteria, understand a specific assessment task, perform the task, and evaluate the quality of their work on the first attempt is a monumental cognitive undertaking. Work examples are a great way to both lift up the work of students as positive examples and also to reduce cognitive load when students are first encountering a new skill or concept. I frequently create examples of the work at varying levels of quality and ask students to evaluate it together using the assessment criteria. 
  • Peer Review: Peer review serves three valuable purposes-
    • to expose students to a variety of ways of approaching a task,
    • to provide them with actionable information to guide revision, 
    • and to help them better understand the assessment criteria by evaluating the work of others.
Unscaffolded peer review often degrades into a scavenger hunt for missing commas and so it's important to structure the session around one or two criteria and ask students to evaluate, advise on, and celebrate the work. Tools like Floop's Flash Feedback can streamline this process and provide actionable data to guide instruction and interventions. 

Building a Holistic Feedback System

These strategies meet the following criteria

Actionable Information

☐ Focuses feedback on task, process, or regulation
☐ Supports timely communication of feedback information
☐ Structures feedback to include information about goals, progress, and activities for improvement
☐ Aligns feedback with standards and criteria
☐ Supports a variety of assessment and feedback types

Feedback Literacy

☐ Supports guided self-assessment
✓ Supports guided peer-assessment
✓ Supports worked examples
✓ Supports engagement with grading criteria
☐ Asks students to specify the feedback they would like to receive
☐ Encourages students to thoroughly read feedback information
☐ Encourages students to revisit prior feedback information
☐ Emphasizes the connection of one assignment to the broader learning outcomes

☐ Supports a positive relationship between feedback provider and recipient

Agency to Act

☐ Makes evident when feedback information has been used to improve work
☐ Promotes dialogue and discussion around feedback information
☐ Supports sequencing of tasks to promote application of feedback
☐ Supports sharing of tailored resources or alignment of resources with learning needs

☐ Supports goal-setting and reflection in response to feedback
☐ Supports development and execution of an improvement or revision plan
☐ Supports revision and resubmitting of work
☐ Supports the organization of feedback to reveal patterns and themes
☐ Supports the showcasing of work that evidences growth in response to feedback


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Part 1 - Tools for an Equitable Feedback System: Feedback is Emotional

This series of posts will cover a variety of bite-sized strategies that can be incorporated into a more holistic feedback system. To learn more about the research behind these approaches, we recommend you first read our white paper.

Most of us have experienced that moment where you pass back papers, full of rich and detailed feedback, and watch a student walk out of class and drop it in the recycling. It's hard not to take it personally. Why do some of our students struggle so much with receiving and using feedback?