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What if feedback only counted when it changed the learner?

Title: What if feedback only counted when it changed the learner?
Date/time: Friday 31 Aug 2012. AM parallel sessions: 'seminar 1' (my own slot: 10:40am - 11:10am room LT1 = 3G02).
Occasion: eAssessment Scotland 2012
Place: University of Dundee   Dalhousie Building
How to get there: Instructions

Steve Draper,   School of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Slides: PDF
Handout: PDF file
Related material:


Design Principle

Ensure there is something that triggers the learner into processing any feedback into actions.

This talk discusses a candidate principle for feedback: "There is no point in giving feedback to a learner unless the learner acts on it: does something concrete and differently because of it". This would apply equally to hand-written and e-Assessment; and to essay-based and calculation-based subjects.

As you know, most teachers give written feedback as if it is a required deliverable, like a checkout assistant handing every customer the printed receipt, even though few use them. The recent fad for setting return times for feedback is also like this: guaranteeing a service with no attention to whether it has any useful effect. E-assessment is if anything even more focussed on "delivery" without the slightest regard for actual impact. What if we judged our feedback strictly by the observable effect it had on the recipient learners?

I have followed a lot of advice on feedback e.g. balancing positive and negative, stimulating discussion of it with both the tutor and peers; yet without much sign of impact. Any evidence of learners actually learning from it has been absent. Recently however I've come across two different cases where there has been something approaching success. I discuss the issue, the many signs of "no effect", and these glimmers of hope.

In order to book online and obtain further information about the conference please visit; or otherwise contact Kenji Lamb at klamb AT

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