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NSW Syllabuses

Effective feedback

Teacher feedback about student learning is essential for students and integral to teaching, learning and assessment. Feedback can clarify for students:

  • how their knowledge, understanding and skills are developing in relation to the syllabus outcomes and content being addressed
  • how to improve their learning.

Principles of effective feedback

Feedback enables students to recognise their strengths as well as areas for development, and to identify and plan with their teacher the next steps in their learning. Students should be provided with opportunities to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills through feedback that:

  • is timely, specific and related to the learning and assessment intention
  • is constructive and provides meaningful information to students about their learning in a variety of forms
  • focuses on the activity and corrects misunderstandings
  • identifies and reinforces students’ strengths
  • provides information about how they can improve
  • facilitates the development of and provides opportunities for self-assessment and reflection during the learning process
  • informs future teaching and learning opportunities.

Feedback can occur at any point in the teaching, learning and assessment cycle. It may:

include regular teacher–student dialogue to guide student learning

focus on particular knowledge, understanding and skills related to content, and/or processes applied to an activity.

Students may benefit from opportunities to self-assess, self-monitor and make judgements about their work in relation to standards and should be provided with regular opportunities to reflect on their learning.

See also:

Forms of feedback

The nature of the assessment activity and the context of the learning influences the type of feedback provided to students. Feedback may take a variety of forms, including digital and other modes. It may be formal or informal, and should encourage teacher–student dialogue about learning. It may include:

  • oral feedback from the teacher, student and their peers, such as collaborative activities and conferencing
  • written feedback from the teacher and/or peers, based on the criteria for assessing learning.

Teachers may consider the following forms of feedback to support teaching, learning and assessment:

  • whole-class discussions to clarify the task during the activity, including blogs, wikis and forums
  • whole-class or individual student comments about aspects of the activity where students performed well, and how to improve
  • peer and self-assessments and self-reflections
  • checklists, criteria sheets, comments or grades
  • ongoing oral or written comments, including questioning students’ understanding
  • cues, reinforcements or prompts to redirect learning
  • drafts and resubmissions
  • peer collaborations using online tools
  • written, audio or digital annotations
  • discussion of a range of student work samples and other examples beyond the classroom in relation to criteria.

Feedback to support student learning

Providing students with advice about how they can improve their learning is a key element of effective feedback. Students benefit from opportunities to:

  • rehearse and practise
  • consult a range of reference points, including teachers, adults, peers and resources, including digital resources
  • reflect on their learning and plan how to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills.

Feedback supports student learning when it:

  • clarifies learning in relation to outcomes, criteria and standards
  • is based on a standards-referenced approach rather than comparisons with other students
  • recognises improvements made over time in comparison to prior work samples
  • offers alternatives or asks students to think of alternatives
  • focuses on the activity rather than the student
  • is descriptive and questioning
  • values student work and focuses on the quality rather than the quantity
  • models how to apply a particular skill
  • facilitates self-reflection
  • encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
  • is timely and provides opportunities for students to act upon advice.

Also in assessment: