Evidence for Learning: Feedback


A summary of the research evidence on feedback in the Australasian context.

The Teaching & Learning Toolkit focuses on impact; it presents an estimate of the average impact of feedback on learning progress, based on the synthesis of a large number of quantitative studies from around the world.

This page offers a summary and analysis of individual Australasian studies on feedback. In contrast to the Toolkit it includes studies which do not estimate impact, but instead investigate the implementation of interventions and how they are perceived by school leaders, teachers and students. This information is valuable for school leaders and teachers interested in finding out more about particular examples of feedback interventions that have been delivered in Australia and New Zealand.

This Australasian Research Summary was generated by Melbourne Graduate School of Education in 2016. 

No studies yet have examined the application of feedback models in Australian schools, despite the emergence of more general Australian research on feedback. One expert review discusses new ways of conceptualising feedback, with an emphasis on how it influences learning (Boud, 2015).

Most studies on feedback have examined the adaptation of the Black and Williams (1998) or Hattie and Timperley (2007) models of feedback in higher education, business, or computer science. These studies, however, are not relevant to feedback as a school-based intervention.

The Hattie and Timperley (2007) model has been adopted by many Australian Departments of Education, teacher registration bodies, and the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), as a definitive model of feedback for classroom application. Despite its prevalence and broad acceptance, there remains very little evidence pertaining to its application in Australian schools.

A number of New Zealand-based studies have examined the classroom application of the model, and the model’s four levels of feedback have been shown to exist in upper primary and lower secondary student self-assessment feedback (Harris, Brown & Harnett, 2015). The studies indicate that students perceive feedback positively and, provided teachers and students are informed about its role and means, that it has a positive impact on learning. One study involving six primary schools examined the relationship between the quality of feedback on a written student assessment and student achievement (Parr & Timperley, 2010). A strong positive correlation (r = .685, p < .01) was found between provision of formative written feedback by teachers (n=30) and gains in students’ (n=375) achievement on a nationally standardised measure of writing. Using Cohen’s d, a large, average effect size gain (1.19) over two years was calculated, and the average expected effect size gain nationally is 0.2 per year, or 0.4 over two years (Parr & Timperley, 2010).

Students perceive feedback as positive and constructive if they think it will help them improve (Harris, Brown & Harnett, 2014). A study involving 193 New Zealand primary and secondary students from 11 Auckland region schools analysed students’ (self-report) survey responses alongside drawings of their understandings and experiences of feedback. The majority of students drew and indicated a common view of teacher-led feedback practices (Harris, Brown & Harnett, 2014).

Prompted peer feedback has a significant effect on the number of comments related to knowledge of errors, suggestions for improvement, and process level feedback. A New Zealand-based study examined the application of the Hattie and Timperley model, specifically the effects of prompting on students’ written peer feedback in chemistry investigation reports (Gan & Hattie, 2014). Involving six classes of Year 12 chemistry students (n=121) from three urban secondary schools, the study found that prompted feedback enables reviewers to engage more meaningfully with peer feedback in report writing tasks (Gan & Hattie, 2014).

However, both peer- and self-assessed feedback tends to be task and process oriented (Harris, Brown & Harnett, 2015). One study collected student data from Auckland teachers and students (Years 5 – 10) participating in the Measuring Teachers’ Assessment Practices Project. Student work samples were classified in accordance with the Hattie and Timperley model, and it was found that self-regulatory feedback was absent in peer-assessment modes and only rarely found in self-assessment (Harris, Brown & Harnett, 2015).

Boud, D. (2015). Feedback: Ensuring that it leads to enhanced learning. Clinical Teacher, 12(1), 3 – 7.

Gan, M. J. S., & Hattie, J. (2014). Prompting secondary students’ use of criteria, feedback specificity and feedback levels during an investigative task. Instructional Science, 42(6), 861 – 878.

Harris, L. R., Brown, G. T. L., & Harnett, J. A. (2014). Understanding classroom feedback practices: A study of New Zealand student experiences, perceptions, and emotional responses. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 26(2), 107 – 133.

Harris, L., Brown, G. T. L., & Harnett, J. (2015). Analysis of New Zealand primary and secondary student peer- and self-assessment comments: applying Hattie and Timperley’s feedback model. Assessment in Education, 22(2), 265 – 281.

Parr, J. M., & Timperley, H. S. (2010). Feedback to writing, assessment for teaching and learning and student progress. Assessing Writing, 15(2), 68 – 85.

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Feedback; formative evaluation; assessment for learning; feedback interventions; corrective feedback.