Types of Feedback

Feedback may involve activities and strategies such as: participation, interaction in discussion, reflection, collaboration, group, or individual work (Costello & Crane, 2009).

Types of feedback include:

  • summative,
  • formative,
  • formal,
  • informal,
  • intrinsic,
  • extrinsic,
  • internal,
  • instructional,
  • corrective,
  • appreciative,
  • scaffolding.

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.

Feedback TypeDescriptionTypical Use
FormativeUsed early in the course to provide learners with an opportunity to adjust their work and increase their potential for success, since 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
Feedback Types, Descriptions, and Typical Uses


  • 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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDw6ONhd5ys
  • 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.