Christopher Hoddinott Extended Essay, Reflective Project and Personal Project Coordinator. MYP and DP Music Teacher , XCL World Academy, Singapore

Christopher Hoddinott uses research to suggest ways to effectively give feedback to our students that results in the best improvements. 

Two years ago I completed my Masters in Education, Leadership and Management. My thesis concentrated on an important aspect of teaching which is the teacher's feedback to students. Through my study on feedback, I investigated the question of what is effective feedback, and what methods of feedback were the most important, whether it is written or oral, formal or informal, during learning or after learning, part of peer assessment, self-assessment, teacher-led, evaluative or descriptive. Most of all I wanted to take the feedback into the running of the extended essay and personal projects, to help teachers give effective feedback in their meetings and marking of draft reports. 

Understanding what feedback is and why it is important 

Feedback is given to help guide the student in the right direction to improve. Feedback has to be actionable and allow the continuation of the development of the skill or knowledge base. It should also help to motivate the student to aspire and motivate themselves to improve.  Therefore setting learning goals so the student knows where they are heading, providing motivation, building positive relationships and being consistent with feedback are key areas to help build effective feedback. 

Our interactions and our relationships with our students are important in giving effective feedback

Every time we talk or communicate with students we are giving some kind of feedback. When we have interaction on any kind of human-level we have an opportunity to give feedback and help the student develop. Feedback can also be given through online and written formats, such as Google Docs. The question arises of how can the student understand the feedback clearly and how can the student develop as a result of the feedback? Therefore our interactions and our relationships with our students are important in giving effective feedback. 

Setting learning goals

Setting learning goals provides significant motivation and instilling a growth mindset allows students to have the right attitude towards their learning (Dweck, 2014). Having a target to progress towards allows the student to focus on the parameters that they are working towards and their improvement is measurable against their own targets. It also helps to improve students' intrinsic motivation for improvements. As teachers, we also use feedback from the students to set goals for teaching and learning improvements. This helps to improve the overall standard of teaching and learning. 

Student motivation 

When students are more positive in their learning environment they are more open to receiving and acting on feedback

Feedback has the potential to build students confidence but at the same time also has the power to demotivate. Kluger and DeNisi (1996) found in their research that one-third of feedback decreased student performance. Therefore it is important to consider how you are phrasing the feedback to the students to ensure you are providing incentives to motivate them. Dweck (2017) also highlights the importance of a growth mindset in student motivation, that they are more open to criticism and are able to develop and improve over time. 

Student-teacher relationships

The student-teacher relationship is central to giving effective feedback and seeing student improvement. Student and teacher relationships are built on trust where students are comfortable with taking risks and making mistakes, encouraging the deepening ofs knowledge and understanding, as well as being more of a risk-taker and open-minded. Therefore, the student trusts that the teacher will be supportive in guiding and motivating them to improve. When students are more positive in their learning environment they are more open to receiving and acting on feedback. 

Building consistency in feedback 

Wiggins (2012) in his seven keys of effective feedback highlights the need for feedback to be consistent. That is tangible and transparent and actionable. One of the implementations of our Extended Essay was to provide consistent feedback to the student in their draft. This meant reference to the rubrics, the key descriptors, therefore we used a template for supervisors to use. This helped to ensure that we were consistent but it also provided clear actionable points for the students to work on. Students could also follow up with questions to help clarify any points that they didn’t understand. Teachers found the process easier to give feedback and students found the feedback more useful to improve their assignments. 


Overall, the most important aspect of feedback is developing a positive learning environment with positive student-teacher relationships. That students are open-minded and have a growth mindset in receiving feedback. With supportive teachers, Students are motivated to put feedback into action to develop and improve.

Having goals that the student wants to achieve gives a clear directive to students, whether it is completing the essay to the best of their standard, developing a skill or producing a product. Having a vision for what the student wants to achieve provides the intrinsic motivation for a student's ability to improve and grow. 


Dweck, C (2014). Developing a Growth Mindset. Available at: Accessed on: (26 March 2019) 

Dweck, C. (2015) Carol Dweck: "The Growth Mindset" | Talks at Google. Available at: Accessed on: (26 March 2019) 

Dweck, C. (2017) Mindset, Updated Edn. London: Robinson. 

Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254–284.

Wiggins, G., (2012) Seven keys to effective feedback. 2012, 70(1), pp.11-16.