Learning Innovation Teaching Resources

Providing Feedback for Students

To grade something is to provide an evaluation based on a set of criteria, usually a number or letter grade. Feedback is a form of grading which provides not just the grade but also explanation for why a student received the grade and how they might improve on future tasks, assignments, papers, or exams.  


How to Provide Feedback

The method for providing feedback varies from instructor to instructor. Feedback can be, but is not limited to:

  • A separate sheet with printed criteria for an assignment, leaving blanks for comments
  • In-line comments and notes on an assignment, paper, or exam
  • Audio-recorded verbal feedback
  • In-person conference-style one-on-one discussions with the student

Regardless of the method chosen, it’s recommended feedback remain consistent with students across the term and across sections. Whenever possible, consider the following:

  • Make comments text-specific by referring to particular places where students are successful or where problems occur.
  • Comments such as “good!” or “unclear” provide students with little information to help and should be followed with reasons why something is good or unclear.
  • If providing end comments, choose three areas to focus on. That way, students won’t be overwhelmed by feedback longer than the assignment itself.
  • Limit sentence level comments; don’t mark every grammar mistake or spelling error. Instead, select a representative page or paragraph and ask students to apply what is learned from the marks to the rest of the assignment.