How can I provide opportunities for feedback before summative assessments?

Designing opportunities for feedback is vital to support student learning and to enhance student achievement. Feedback needs to be framed as a dialogue that continues throughout the learning process, rather than feedback as a teacher-led input after an assessment. Dialogic feedback can empower students to make sense of the learning that has been achieved, and to reflect upon what needs to come ahead.

Ideally, feedback leads to actionable changes to develop student skills, strategies, knowledge acquisition and achievement. But for feedback opportunities to be actionable they need to happen before the final marking process. We can ensure that this happens by fostering a feedback culture for students’ work by designing various and varied feedback opportunities into our learning activities before assessment submission takes place.

Feedback opportunities can happen between:

  • The student and their work
  • The student and their peers
  • The student group and you
  • The individual student and you
  • An authentic audience and the student’s work


Feedback should be both a response to students past learning and a response to their possible future learning gains. Recent research (Carless, 2016; Carless & Boud, 2018; Tai et al., 2018) has clearly highlighted that feedback needs to have a place to land so that students may engage with the feedback, uptake the feedback, and then use the feedback in future tasks.

By embedding feedback opportunities to take place as face-to-face or online learning activities in our class schedules, we enable greater student agency over their learning, develop student’s self-regulation as learners, and crucially make feedback a dialogic process.

Five Top Tips

  1. Understanding assessment criteria: Facilitating a learning activity or in-class discussion based around assessment criteria and intended learning outcomes.

  2. Using exemplars: Using a learning activity with exemplars of high quality and low-quality work which students can use to clarify standards and help students set goals.

  3. Pre-assessment activities: Increasing in-class dialogic feedback about outlines, plans, drafts and prototypes in face-to-face and online learning activities before assessment submission.

  4. Marking: Increasing written feedback comments on first assessment task which students can respond to as a reflection and in their subsequent drafts.

  5. Peer-review and self-evaluation: Promoting peer review opportunities; the process of reviewing another student’s work allows the reviewee to receive ideas for consideration while simultaneously allowing self-reflection about their own work. This also allows students new perspectives to apply pre-assessment submission.


  • Use tools like Padlet or discussion boards based on self-evaluation and peer review activities to facilitate feedback dialogue.
  • Use tools like VoiceThread, or Flipgrid to enact video and audio asynchronous and synchronous feedback dialogues.
  • Use interactive coversheets so students can ask for feedback on specific things. This puts them in the control of thinking about their work and asking about their work.

Useful Resources


Carless, D. (2016). Feedback as dialogue. Encyclopedia of educational philosophy and theory, 1-6.

Carless, D., & Boud, D. (2018). The development of student feedback literacy: Enabling uptake of feedback. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(8), 1315-1325.

Tai, J., Ajjawi, R., Boud, D., Dawson, P., & Panadero, E. (2018). Developing evaluative judgement: enabling students to make decisions about the quality of work. Higher Education, 76(3), 467-481.