Teachers should consider this principle if… they are examining how much feedback they give to their students.

As teachers, we do our best to support our learners and often spend time providing many points of feedback to support student growth. Research suggests that one component of student feedback includes their perception about whether the feedback provided is achievable. This evaluation on the part of students often involves them weighing the benefits of achieving the goal versus risks of failure or embarrassment in front of their peers.

Considering this, would we rather our students implement three points of feedback well, or possibly ignore a longer list of things they need to do to improve?

Based on this, feedback should be directed at the right level of challenge and not a long list of things to do. This requires teachers to provide students with just three or four clear and actionable points of feedback. These should be targeted to the right level of challenge for the learner, and connected to the learning goals of the task. After the student has achieved these next steps, more feedback and further guidance can be provided.

When this principle is in action:

The teacher…

– Provides the student with three or four points of feedback.
– Provides feedback at the right level of challenge for the learner (not too easy, not too hard), and connected to the assessment criteria of the task.
– Provides clear and achievable “next steps” using Keyset to insert these comments.

The student…

– Knows exactly what their next steps are.
– Feels confident in successfully implementing the feedback provided to them.
– Responds to the teacher feedback on the next iteration of the activity, or on the next learning task.


A scholarly approach to solving the feedback dilemma in practice (p. 943)

Hattie & Timperley, Power of Feedback