Teachers should consider this principle if… they want understand how student expectations influence their engagement with teacher feedback.

Different students look for different things when they receive feedback from a teacher. For learners with less confidence, they often seek to have their effort and things they have done well, recognized. For students who are confident and driven, they often see overly positive comments as ‘empty flattery’ or ‘filler’ and just want the constructive information.

The effectiveness of the feedback provided to students is influenced by how much it aligns to the students’ needs and expectations. Considering this, feedback provided needs to be tailored so that it matches the students’ level of challenge and understanding. This feedback also needs to take into consideration their level of learning confidence and feedback preferences. This is not to say that teachers should only give positive feedback to some learners, and ignore the more powerful constructive feedback. Each unique learner and their potential responses to the feedback provided needs to be considered.

Teachers need to examine the nature of their messaging and understand that each student will respond differently to the feedback provided.

When this principle is in action:

The teacher…

– Uses a common language when providing feedback.
– Takes into account the nature of the learner when providing feedback to them.
– Develops relational trust with the student, so they know that feedback provided is intended to support their learning.
– Will create feedback to be given using Keyset that addresses common issues within their content area. This feedback will focus on both constructive comments as well as positive reinforcement for those same elements that are done well.

The student…

– Does not feel that their sense of self is threatened when receiving feedback.
– Receives feedback that suits their level of understanding, as well as their level of learning confidence.
– Feels motivated by the feedback they receive and equipped with the information they need to improve for the next assignment.


Hattie & Timperley, Power of Feedback