Best practices in providing feedback on students’ work

The following best practice principles can guide instructors in deciding how and when to provide feedback to their students (Fiock & Garcia, 2019; Nicol et al., 2014)).

Click each title to learn more about them.

Apply to your course: Resources & Tools 

There are several approaches and technologies that can be used to give students feedback about their progress. It is recommended that, in order to maximize feedback, instructors create opportunities for students to give and receive feedback in all of the following scenarios:

  • Instructor—Individual Student
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Student—self
  • Instructor—small group

Feedback Methods


UMass-supported Tools


  • Predefined criteria for success and points allotted for different categories of the assignment.
  • Guide for Designing Grading Rubrics  (Brown)
  • Use Canvas rubrics to build and grade an assignment within the LMS
  • Upload your own rubric as an attachment in the LMS

Peer Review

Written Annotations

  • Written comments are made directly on students’ work: use the LMS features to directly comment, add/strikethrough/highlight text, etc.
  • See Dawson et al.’s (2019) article on Effective Feedback
Verbal audio feedback
  • Recorded audio feedback on an assignment (this can often ultimately be both time-saving and clearer than written feedback for students)
Video Feedback & Screencasting
  • Recorded video of the person providing feedback and/or a video of what’s on the screen (this could be helpful for specificity on an assignment, as one can show where improvements are needed and what was done well)
  • Use any screen recording platform on your computer or Zoom or Echo360
Video Conferencing
  • Students are given feedback through video conferencing format (scheduled or during office hours)
  • Zoom
  • Students evaluate their own work and progress using guided questions, the assignment rubric, etc.
  • Canvas Discussions/Pages


Brown University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. Designing Grading Rubrics.

Brown University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. Peer Assessment in Online Courses.

Dawson, P., Henderson, M., Mahoney, P., Phillips, M., Ryan, T., Boud, D., & Molloy, E. (2019). What makes for effective feedback: Staff and student perspectivesAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(1), 25-36.

Fiock, H. & Garcia, H. (2019, November 11). How to Give Your Students Better Feedback With Technology. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T, & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2, 87–105.

Nash & Winstone. (2018, March 14). When feedback is forgettable. The Learning Scientists.

Nicol, D., Thomson, A., & Breslin, C. (2014). Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: a peer review perspective. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(1), 102-122.

Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane‐Dick, D. (2007). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in higher education, 31(2), 199-218.

The University of Survey. 2020. Feedback in Online Learning.

How to cite this page:

UMass Amherst IDEAS Team. (2024, March). Provide effective feedback on students' learning process.