Six Dimensions of Effective Feedback

 Round3 helps teachers provide great feedback experiences for all learners.

Round3 helps teachers provide great feedback experiences for all learners.

People crave feedback. Kids and adults alike are constantly looking for ways to understand the answer to the question, "How am I doing? Am I on the right track? Am I doing this right?" We need feedback because humans are really bad at accurately self-assessing our own level of competence, and Round3 helps teachers provide great feedback experiences for all learners.

Round3 helps teachers provide great feedback experiences for all learners.

We can probably all think of positive feedback experiences and negative experiences where feedback felt more like criticism. As we strive to incorporate learner-centered instructional strategies in our classrooms, there are some dimensions of feedback we should consider. How many of these six dimensions do you attend to regularly?

Six Dimensions of Feedback

In a review of learner-centered instruction, we found that the ideal feedback experience is comprised of six dimensions: timeliness, distribution, frequency, content, individualization, and credibility (trusted source). There are more and less effective techniques for each one of these dimensions.

  1. Timeliness: Learners should receive feedback soon after they demonstrate an attempt; however, when intentionally applied, delaying feedback to allow time for self-reflection can also be effective.

  2. Distribution: Throughout a unit of instruction, students should experience distributed instances of feedback at somewhat regular intervals instead of receiving many feedback instances right before a test or project submission.

  3. Frequency: In general, more the more frequently a student receives feedback on their attempts, the better. An exception would be when the teacher is intentionally fading the frequency of feedback to decrease learner dependence.

  4. Content: The content of the feedback should provide more than motivation (ie. good job). It should extend the learning (ie. a question to consider), provide a hint, or provide next steps for learning. It should also connect the learner's attempt to the intended learning outcome.

  5. Individualization: A student should be able to tell that at least some of the feedback instances were individualized to her. Examples include connecting to the learner's prior strengths and needs, interests, or future goals.

  6. Credibility: A student needs to trust the source of his feedback. If peer review is used exclusively, learners devalue the feedback because they have to interpret whether or not they trust the source. A simple survey question can determine whether or not students trust the source of their feedback.

Applying the Six Dimensions

It would be unrealistic to experience the ideal scenario for each of these dimensions on every assignment. A better application of the six dimensions would be to consider a student's feedback experience across an entire unit for a subject area. Imagine a typical student experience across the unit, and consider the six dimensions. Does every student experience timely, distributed, frequent, content rich, individualized and credible feedback at strategic points throughout the unit? If each dimension of feedback was presented as a slice of a pie chart, which ones would be least significant?

Round3 facilitates students’ own self-assessments.

As teachers, we know that providing individualized feedback for every learner is one of the most beneficial but time consuming aspects of our profession. I’d love to be able to provide individualized, content rich feedback to every student every day, but it is just not humanly possible. This is where technology can help us out. First, using tools like Round3, enables teachers to see the peer feedback exchanges occurring among all learners. With this visibility, teachers are able to provide daily instruction related to effective and ineffective feedback exchanges. Related to providing feedback, we have seen many students become nearly as effective as their teachers. Second, Round3 facilitates students’ own self-assessments. If students are given scaffolding like well-crafted questions or prompts, in some cases their self-assessment feedback is as robust as teacher feedback. Round3 provides teachers with easy access to students’ self-assessments and subsequent revisions.

Round3 enables teachers to see the peer feedback exchanges occurring among all learners.

A second application for the dimensions of feedback could occur when you are implementing any kind of instructional technology that provides students with immediate feedback (clickers, Kahoot quizzes, adaptive learning, courseware products, intelligent tutoring). These tools help instructors provide timely, frequent, and distributed, feedback, but is it content rich and individualized? It may also be important to ask students if they trust the feedback they're receiving from the programmed source.

When teachers plan lessons that incorporate Round3 as the vehicle for providing feedback, it provides high value to the dimensions of feedback that are most challenging to accomplish in day-to-day instruction: individualized, content-rich and credible feedback. Using Round3 individualization can be easily accomplished by engaging peers as providers of feedback for one another. To avoid issues with credibility, meaning that students start mistrusting the peer feedback, using Round3, the teacher can read aggregate views of the feedback the whole class is providing for one another. A whole group lesson where the teacher highlights accurate or effective feedback and redirects the less effective feedback could be just what is needed to steward the credibility of peer feedback and to bring all of the dimensions of the learner feedback experience back into balance.



Crisp, E. A., & Bonk, C. J. (2018). Defining the Learner Feedback Experience. TechTrends, 1–9.


Article written by Erin CrispDirector of Academic Assessment and Evaluation, Indiana Wesleyan University