On feedback, part 2

Effective feedback answers three questions

Where am I going? (Feed Up)

How am I going? (Feed Back)

Where to next? (Feed Forward)

Hattie & Timperley (2007) The Power of Feedback


The overt aim is to shift the focus away from telling the students about the quality of their work (disclosure) and towards having them see and understand the reasons for quality (visibility), and in the process develop personal capability in making complex judgements. This includes judgements about their own works, both during production and on completion.

Sadler (2010) Beyond feedback: developing student capability in complex appraisal

As you can see from the quotes above, lately I’ve dedicated some time to reading what other academics have written about feedback. To the best of my knowledge (really love this saying), feedback hasn’t received as much scholarly attention as it deserves, but at least the two papers I quoted above are definitely worth reading.

Some weeks ago I attended a dinner party where one person commented that recently their department’s professors have started giving feedback that is ‘too nice’. One explanation that was offered here was that perhaps these professors had become cautious in giving feedback: after all, when we give feedback to others we do it with our best intentions, although at times we might sound harsh. I have to say this brief anecdote I heard over the dinner was fascinating! How on earth would anyone want others to give harsh criticism to something they have done? Then again, sometimes I have also used the phrase ‘be harsh, but don’t get personal’…

Anyhow, in order to make some sense out of this feedback mess, consider the following figure

Please consider this as a rough prototype for framing feedback. It’s just an idea, but it would be interesting to try it out when giving and receiving feedback. Basically the idea could be to present this framework to the other person to ask what kind of feedback they have received in the past, what kind of feedback they appreciate most, and what kind of feedback they would require now. For instance.

Where additional notions:

  1. This is not a tool that necessarily works in every situation: instead, it might be useful in figuring out what kind of feedback is constructive and / or desirable in the situation at hand
  2. What is the purpose for giving and receiving feedback?
  3. Matching passion with passion – I think the dinner anecdote mentioned above was brilliant in that it illustrates the need to respect and appreciate the creator’s passion. If they gave it their 100%, then ideally feedback’s intensity and commitment should reflect this.

Just some initial thoughts, but hopefully it gives you some food for thought!



2 thoughts on “On feedback, part 2

  1. Feedback is like fish. If it is not used quickly, it becomes useless. Sally Brown

    1. Interesting point, Peter! I fully agree that feedback should be immediate as otherwise it might be tricky to recall the event, but learning that arises from the feedback can stretch over a longer period of time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *