Feedback Technologies

Feedback Technologies

There are several technologies that may be used in providing quality, electronic feedback. Understanding a technology’s flexibility will help you find more creative ways to use them (Costello & Crane, 2015). Many methods are suitable for feedback in multiple contexts.

Word Processing

Word processing is easier than handwriting to read in providing feedback on work to learners. It may speed return time. You can focus on details using track changes, highlighting, or comments. Converting files to portable document format (pdf) enhances the document’s security. Pdf files can be marked with the typewriter, highlighter, text boxes or free style pen. Note that embedding audio or video files significantly increases the document’s file size.

Pen Technology

Pen technology on a tablet allows you write comments to the document on screen and save these comments to the file. This ‘feels’ like writing feedback on a paper version. This efficient, personal method allows for specific detailed comments in context.

Audio Scribe Pens

Audio scribe pens allow you to write notes on paper and simultaneously record audio. The audio is aligned with text notes when both are imported and synchronized into the computer.

Digital Audio

Digital audio feedback involves you recording what you say about the assignment to an audio file. The audio file itself can be returned or attached to the electronic assignment. This portable, easy to use method allows learners to attune to instructors’ nuances in messages.

Digital Video

Digital video feedback combines multiple communication benefits such as body language, facial expressions, objects, demonstrations, etc., to provide feedback. ‘Seeing’ the instructor also increases teaching presence, leaving a positive impact on learners. One minute of video may use about 1MG of storage.


Automated feedback is programmed feedback received after completing a task such as a drag and drop exercise, game, branching story, or a multiple-choice question. Learners may repeat these exercises and quizzes multiple times. The feedback should both correct responses and provide remedial advice on how where the student went wrong.

Personal Response Systems

Personal response systems are sometimes referred to as clickers. They provide real-time, whole-class questioning and data collection and analysis (Costello & Crane, 2009). Smart devices or bookstore purchased clickers may be used. The immediate feedback shows learners correct response and how they did in comparison giving learners a sense of their own learning while giving the instructor an indication the class’s progression.

Resource created by Jane C. & Daph C.

Types of Feedback

Types of Feedback

Feedback may involve activities and strategies such as: participation, interaction in discussion, reflection, collaboration, group, or individual work (Costello & Crane, 2009). The table below outlines some types of feedback that could be used in higher education at various stages of learning. A course may incorporate one or multiple types of feedback. Types of feedback include: summative, formative, formal, informal, intrinsic, extrinsic, internal, instructional, corrective, appreciative and scaffolding.

Feedback TypeDescriptionTypical Use
Formativeused early in the course to provide learners with an opportunity to adjust their work and increase their potential for success as learners need time to experiment with the course content in a safe manner (Nichol, 2007).unit test, weekly assignments, lab work, interactive auto-feedback learning activities, such as drag and drop, ‘first drafts’ formative or building assignments, informal discussions
Summativetakes place later in a course relating to a capstone assessment (Nichol, 2007).final exams, comprehensive exams or assignments, take home exam, multimedia project (constructing a video or web page), reflective paper
Formalprovided to improve future work; usually associated with assignments, formal online discussions, course and program evaluations (Bull & McKenna, 2004; Nichol, 2007).discussions, major assignments
Informalprovided through informal discussions, body language, tone, choice of words, etc. (Bull & McKenna, 2004; Nichol, 2007).informal discussions, emoticons
Intrinsicone’s immediate internal feedback guiding learner towards or away from something (gut reaction).games, debates, labs
Extrinsican external comment on a situation, it; e.g. right vs. wrong (Lourillard, 2007). Mimics intrinsic feedback.branching stories, yes/no responses
Internallearners monitor their own work through reflecting and self-assessment (Nichol, 2007).learning journals, blogs, ePortfolio
Instructionalguides the learner on how to improve their work, understand why their work is exceptional, or discover how to take it further. This may be considered part of formative feedback (Mohr, 2010).computer-based training, self-paced tutorials, essays, labs
Correctivegives information to the learner on what they have done wrong and why is it incorrect (Mohr, 2010).auto tutors
Appreciativethe “good point” or “thanks for sharing” that lets the learner know what they do is important (Mohr, 2010).discussions, group work, social networking (blogs, Twitter)
Scaffoldingfeedback on components of a work that are applied to a capstone piece (Finn & Metcalfe, 2010).project work, eP, group work, large essays, capstone projects, comprehensive exams


  • Bull, J., & McKenna, C. (2004). Blueprint for Computer-Assisted Assessment, (pp. 52- 62). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.
  • Costello, J., & Crane, D. (2009, October). Providing learner-centered feedback using a variety of technologies. Paper presented at EDGE 2009 conference, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
  • Finn, B., & Metcalfe, J. (2010). Scaffolding feedback to maximize long-term error correction. Memory & Cognition, 19(7), 951-961.
  • Lourillard, D. (2007). Rethinking University Teaching (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.
  • Mohr, D. (2010, July). Providing effective feedback in online courses for student learning. Sloan C Foundation Webinar. Retrieved from
  • Nichol, D. (2007). E-assessment by design: using multiple-choice tests to good effect. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(1), 53-64.
Resource created by Jane C. & Daph C.

Providing Feedback Electronically

Providing Feedback Electronically

eFeedback is the use of electronic communications to provide information to students about their work. As with all feedback, it includes the comments, questions, and information on how we are achieving our predetermined goal. eFeedback is a dialogue between the learners and their instructors which provides information on what is good, any misconceptions, what needs to be improved and how to improve the work either in-progress or completed. Good feedback will trigger reflection, learning and improvement.

Methods and Technologies

Electronic feedback (e-feedback) uses technologies to provide information to learners on their learning; the aim is to advance the instructor-learner communication or conversation (Denton, Madden, Roberts, & Rowe, 2008). Examples of technologies and tools include: typed comments; stylus scribe; audio; video; automated or computer-generated comments; and discussion forums.

Historically, feedback has been provided through oral, meta-verbal, or written communications. It is possible to provide effective feedback using various technologies especially with the use of ever growing range of information and communications technologies (ICTs).

Method, Technology, eFeedback, Match

Many technologies lend themselves to a variety of feedback methods. Understanding a technology’s flexibility will help you find more creative ways to use them. Costello & Crane (2015) match Feedback methods and suitable technologies.

MethodTechnologyType of eFeedbackExample/Comments
Automated TutorsAutomated Computer-generated commentsQuiz feedback within LMS, prompts in an online activity
Auto-scored assignmentsAutomated Computer-generated comments and associated scoresPopular in quizzes, self-checks and games
EmoticonsWord processor; Text message; Digital video; Automated Icons that express assessor’s emotion towards work being assessedWord stamps, thumbs up, smiley faces
ePortfolioWord processor; Pen & tablet; Pencast; Digital audio; Digital video Work samples illustrating learner’s progress; may involve feedback on work in progressWork samples may include images, written texts, audio or video, certificates
Meta-verbalText message; Digital audio; Digital video Non-spoken communicationGestures, body language, tone, facial expression etc.
Oral commentsDigital audio; Digital video; Personal response system (“clickers”) Spoken words, either synchronous or asynchronousGroup discussions, audio or video
Peer feedbackWord processor; Pen & tablet; Pencast; Text message; Digital audio; Digital video; Personal response system (“clickers”) Critically thought feedback from other students on one’s work, may include suggestions for improvementGroup participation, papers, presentations, portfolios
Reflective networksWord processor; Pen & tablet; Pencast; Digital audio; Digital video; Personal response system (“clickers”) Learners share their learning with others in order to gain deeper understandingPeer tutoring, blogging, etc.
Self-checksAutomated; Personal response system (“clickers”) Self scored quizzes that help learners gauge their learning progressWritten comments – texted-based comments on work

Here is some more information on feedback technologies.


  • Costello, J., & Crane, D. (2015). Promoting Effective Feedback in Online Learning. In S. Keengwe (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Active learning and the Flipped Classroom Model in the Digital Age. IGI Global: Hershey, PA.
  • Costello, J., & Crane, D. (2009, October). Providing learner-centered feedback using a variety of technologies. Paper presented at EDGE 2009 conference, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
  • Denton, P., Madden, J., Roberts, M., & Rowe, P. (2008). Students’ response to traditional and computer-assisted formative feedback: A comparative case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(3), 486-500. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00745.x
  • Ice, P., Swan, K., Kupczynski, L., & Richardson, J. (2008). The impact of asynchronous audio feedback on teaching and social presence: A survey of current research. In Proceedings of world conference on educational multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications 2008 (pp. 5646-5649). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from
Resource created by Jane C. & Daph C.

Making Feedback Learner-Centered

Making Feedback Learner-Centered

This resource outlines guidelines and methods for providing effective, learner-centered feedback. These may be used by both online and on campus instructors.

“Nothing that we do to, or for, our students is more important than our assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment influence our students for the rest of their lives and careers — fine if we get it right, but unthinkable if we get it wrong.”

(Race, Brown, & Smith, 2005, p. xi)

Learner-Centered Feedback

Feedback is the comments, questions, information, on how students are achieving our, instructors’, predetermined goals. Thus, feedback includes emoticons, facial expressions, language, tone, body language, gestures, and comments made during the learning process (Costello & Crane 2015).

Learner-centered learners exhibit characteristics of: (a) understanding reason for learning content; (b) self-awareness of learning abilities and knowledge acquisition; (c) problem solving; (d) retrieving and evaluating learning situations; and (e) communicating their knowledge in real-world contexts (Blumberg, 2009).

Learner-centered feedback provides learners with guidance in evaluating their learning while supporting their learning commitments (Schmitt, Hu, & Bachrach, 2008) and perhaps providing remedial exercises (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). In this type of course a strong focus on learner input and needs is made. Learning experiences are mediated by the instructors through coaching learners and facilitating learner autonomy of learning and assessment (Schmitt, et al., 2008) in demonstrating content knowledge and respect for the learner (Mohr, 2010). This provides learning experiences that are relevant and motivating to learners and inspiring for instructors.

Assessment : Evaluation : Feedback

Let’s take a moment to differentiate between assessment, evaluation, and feedback. Many tend to interchange the terms assessment and evaluation, but they are different. Assessment is more about development and evaluation about performance. Evaluation involves making judgments about what students produced or accomplished in relation to the scope of the objectives. It relies on assessment to review progress. Feedback involves statements relating to the judgments made.

Feedback Models

Keep in mind that students in introductory courses require frequent feedback. There are a couple of models you could use to guide your feedback:

The Fidelity Model


Frequent, Immediate, and Discriminating (based on clear criteria and standards), and delivered Lovingly (Fink, 2003, p. 83).

The Smart Model


Specific, Meaningful, Applicable, Reflective, and Timely (Crane, 2010).

Regardless of which model used, it is important to provide students in introductory courses with frequent feedback.

Guidelines for Good Feedback

Good feedback should:

  • clarify good performance based on goals, criteria, standards — for example,

    “You did a good job with what you have done here. However, if you look at the rubrics 15% of your mark is for creating a diagram.”

  • facilitate the development of self-assessment and reflection — for example,

    “How can you create a diagram to support your argument?”

  • deliver high-quality information to learners about their learning — for example,

    “Refer to the handout on creating diagrams, you could start with a simple two column diagram to support your arguments.”

  • encourage teacher and peer dialog around learning — for example,

    “Let’s talk about how a diagram could help your paper.”

    “You might want to share your paper with a classmate to see if they have suggestions for a diagram.”

  • encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem — for example,

    “What you have done is very good. What would you do to improve it?”

  • provide opportunities to close the gap between current and desired student performance — for example,

    “I am willing to re-read your paper once you have added your missing diagram.”

    (Note: This may or may not mean a change in mark, It depends on the instructor’s philosophy.)

  • provide teachers with information to inform teaching practice (Nichol, 2007) — for example,

    “If many students did poorly with their diagrams, or omitted them completely this would indicate that students need more instruction and guidance on the type of diagram expected.”


  • Blumberg, P. (2009). Developing Learner-Centered Teaching: A Practical Guide for Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Costello, J., & Crane, D. (2015). Promoting Effective Feedback in Online Learning. In S. Keengwe (Ed.) Handbook of Research on Active learning and the Flipped Classroom Model in the Digital Age. IGI Global: Hershey, PA.
  • Crane, D. (2010). Feedback to enhance learning. Unpublished Manuscript, Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada.
  • Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences., San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Hattie, J., & Timperely, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research March, 77(1), 81-112. D=doi: 10.3102/003465430298487
  • Mohr, D. (2010, July). Providing effective feedback in online courses for student learning. Sloan C Foundation Webinar. Retrieved from
  • Nichol, D. (2007). E-assessment by design: using multiple-choice tests to good effect. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(1), 53-64.
  • Race, P., Brown, S., & Smith, B (2005). 500 Tips on assessment. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.
  • Schmitt, E. M., Hu, A. C., & Bachrach, P. S. (2008). Course evaluation and assessment: Examples of a learner-centered approach. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 29(3), 290–300.
Resource created by Jane C. & Daph C.