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6 Characteristics of an Effective Feedback

There is no doubt with the fact that everyone loves to hear that they have done a good job.

But there is a slight problem with just a ‘Good job’.

It does not indicate what exactly has been done right. Neither does it reveal how the same can be repeated for further tasks, nor how to improve.

In short, it isn’t enough and, therefore, not effective.

For a feedback to be effective, it should be clear, meaningful and compatible with students’ knowledge. A vague, ambiguous feedback hardly works.

The feedback you reward your students play a major role in improving their learning practices. Therefore, it is important to make it worthwhile.

Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of an effective feedback.

Specific to the Task

Every feedback requires a context. What is the feedback based on? Which task are you referring to exactly? A feedback can become very confusing if you are not clear about it.

Let’s say you’ve assigned your class a project. Each project is going to be different. While some may be submitted within the deadline, some may be a little late. Also, some may contain remarkable citations, some may provide a strong opinion, some may have an impeccable vocabulary and so on. So, there can be various aspects of a project. As a result, your feedback should indicate the exact aspect in order to eliminate confusion.


The transparency in your feedback lies in how upfront you are being. For example, when you tell your students exactly what you have been expecting from them regarding a certain work, they would be able to modify and improve their learning methods to attain this level.

A transparent feedback will keep the students from guessing what they did wrong or how they failed to meet what was expected of them. This gives your students a chance to take note of how they can improve the next time.


An ideal feedback should contain helpful facts. Feedback should be concrete, useful and definitely, more than “You did this wrong”.

You need to suggest ways to your students on how to improve their work in order to build an effective classroom culture. Otherwise, a feedback diluted with praise or rebuke will be useless since students would not know what to do differently the next time.

Your feedback should include factual, goal-oriented statements that are unbiased. That being said, a complete feedback should also include what your students did right. This is because sometimes students may not be sure about what they did correctly and you might need to point that out to reinforce what works.


Students would not be waiting for a feedback for any longer than a certain period before they move on to the next assignment. A feedback at a later date will hardly be effective since the students may not even remember the details of the project or assignment.

While it may not be possible to provide instantaneous feedback to your students, it is important to make it timely while the project is still fresh in their minds. It should be given while there is still time for your students to act on it.

Easy to Understand

A feedback will hardly make sense if the students do not understand what is being said. Therefore, it is always wise to steer clear of broad judgments. You can break down the goals into smaller, more manageable tasks and this will help in understanding what went wrong or right with each of the tasks.

With smaller and more actionable tasks at hand, students would be more encouraged to reconsider their work. For example, you can separately point out:

  • mistakes in punctuation or spelling
  • any idea that has been misunderstood or misrepresented
  • a certain step in the mathematical problem that has led to the incorrect answer and so on


With a more holistic approach towards learning being welcomed by educators, feedback is no longer restricted to standardized test scores. Feedback works best when it is given often. It works as a guidance for students to improve learning.

Be it in class when a student answers a question during lessons or in an online classroom, you can provide feedback to your students as and when required.

If you are including these attributes to your feedback system, it is quite likely that you are encouraging your students to outperform their peers. An effective feedback is more than a grade. It re-engages students in the learning procedure and motivates them to succeed.

If you have any questions, please ask below!