Feedback and learning support

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Feedback and Learning Support

Begin your thinking about this topic by exploring the questions.

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  • How do you believe that assessment can support learning?
  • How do you use assessment to support your students' learning?

Assessment Supporting Learning

Assessment can either support or undermine learning. The way in which assessment is designed and used impacts on learning.

The video of Professor Graham Gibbs giving a keynote address How Assessment Can Support or Undermine Learning offers wonderful insights into this proposition. This video is 52 minutes long and has wonderful stories and examples of assessment practices - those that do and don't work. Professor Gibbs identifies two key aspects impacting upon assessment supporting learning:

  • the influence of the design of assessment systems and assignments on how much students study, what they study and on the quality of their engagement; and
  • the influence of feedback on learning.

In his 2010 manual he describes five assessment tactics that support student learning:

  1. capturing student time and effort and distributing that effort across topics and weeks;
  2. generating high quality learning effort, orientated towards clear and high standards;
  3. providing sufficiently timely feedback to students on their work;
  4. providing high quality feedback; and
  5. ensuring that students use feedback.

Gibbs, G. (2010). Using Assessment to Support Learning. UK: University of East Anglia. (pp.24 - 35.)


Feedback is a major factor in using assessment to support learning as you can probably recognise in the assessment tactics described in the Gibb's manual.

Gibbs (2010) also explores 10 pedagogic principles underlying the use of assessment to support learning. It is important to note that principles five to ten relate to feedback.

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  1. There should be sufficient assessed tasks to capture sufficient student study time.
  2. Assessment demands should be designed so as to orient students to distribute appropriate amounts of time and effort across all the important aspects of the course.
  3. Tackling the assessed task engages students in productive learning activity of an appropriate kind.
  4. Assessment should communicate clear and high standards.
  5. Sufficient feedback needs to be provided, both often enough and in enough detail.
  6. Feedback should focus on students' performance, on their learning and on actions under the students' control, rather than on the students themselves and on their characteristics.
  7. Feedback should be timely: received by students while it still matters to them and in time for them to pay attention to further learning or receive further assistance.
  8. Feedback should be appropriate in relation to students' understanding of what they are supposed to be doing.
  9. Feedback needs to be received and attended to.
  10. Feedback should be provided in such a way that students act on it and change their future studying.

Gibbs, G. (2010). Using Assessment to Support Learning. UK: University of East Anglia. (pp.11 - 23.)

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1. Use your search skills find out more about Assessment Feedback. You may find it helpful to focus on three key factors related to feedback.
  • Delivery.
  • Timeliness.
  • Relevance.
To share them with the class, please add them to the Moodle discussion forum - Questions and Answers - General Discussion.
2. View three short videos showing different ways to give feedback - good, bad and ugly.
3. Explore the Feedback and Learning Support material on the Resources page to look further. Make sure you refer to Spiller, D. (2009). Assessment: Feedback to promote student learning. Hamilton, New Zealand: Teaching Development, The University of Waikato. A diagram of a very useful four level feedback model is on page 10.
4. What feedback models or processes do you prefer?

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