Weekly Teaching Note
Mar 29 2011
Seven Principles for Developing Assignments and Providing Good Feedback

The feedback we give our students can have a tremendous influence on how effectively they learn.  Here are seven principles to keep in mind when designing assignments and providing feedback to students.
1.     Help students understand what you define as “good work.”
Give the students examples of what you expect from them. Consider providing them with the scoring rubric you will use when grading the assignment.
2.     Help students to reflect on what they learned
Students learn best when they have opportunities to practice their skills. Have students read and evaluate each others’ work. Have them give feedback to each other in order to begin a conversation about the work.
3.     Provide students with evidence of what they are learning.
Give students timely, corrective advice that fits within the scoring rubric for the assignment.
4.     Engage the student in discussions, with you and with peers, about their learning.
Have the student identify comments that they found particularly helpful Ask the students to explain why the feedback was useful and how they applied it.
5.     Provide positive motivation for the students.
Give students the opportunity to revise and resubmit one or two selected pieces in which the student makes adjustments based on the feedback they received.
6.     Encourage students to move beyond their current levels of understanding to the desired level of understanding.
Give students feedback on their work-in-progress that includes some action items. Consider a two-part assignment in which students submit a draft followed by a final product that incorporates feedback they received in class.
7.     Offer students the opportunity to give you feedback that can shape and enhance your own instructional practices.
Give students the opportunity to tell you which aspects of the assignment were the most difficult. You can gather student feedback anonymously, with a “minute paper” (Angelo and Cross, 1993) in class or with the survey tool on Blackboard.

  • Angelo, T. A. and Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers (Josse Bass Higher and Adult Education). Jossey-Bass, 2 edition.
  • Nicol, D. J. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31 (2) pp. 199-218. Available through NYIT’s online databases at http://bit.ly/g5JHlc   
  • Walvoord, B. E. and Anderson, V. J. (2009). Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment in College. Jossey-Bass, 2 edition.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

David Sacks
Faculty/Instructional Consultant
Teaching and Academic Support Center
University of Kentucky

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