Mhairi Glover-Stuart


St Andrew's High

  • Digital Learning: Formative Assessment

What Happens When Timely Feedback is Provided in an S3 Digital Classroom?


Using productive and timely feedback during the online learning period is imperative not only in its ability to boost student motivation and morale, but also because it is critical that we represent the classroom experience as closely as possible. According to Rosenshine’s principles, feedback is an important learning tool for students to address and correct errors in their work (Sherrington 2019). It is also true that, “research suggests that good feedback has a significant impact on student learning” (Tharby 2017, 135).

It has also been shown that the attainment gap is widening due to lockdown and the lack of a physical learning experience (Cullinane and Montacute 2020), therefore, making sure students are given timely feedback is essential in helping them grow and improve. The use of the word “timely” refers to as close to instantaneous as is afforded by the nature of the remote learning period. The type of feedback given must also be adaptable to the task at hand. It is also imperative that there is a balance between the effectiveness of the feedback and the teacher’s workload in providing the feedback:

Primary teacher Michael Tidd sees marking as a prime example of the law of diminishing returns: as more investment is made, the overall return on that investment increases, but at a declining rate (Tharby 2017, 136).

Quite often, the same outcome is achievable through less time-consuming methods of providing the feedback and so therefore thought must be given to the ratio between input and output.


The aim of this enquiry is to discover how useful timely feedback is to students. The investigation intends to determine if certain types of feedback are more useful than others, and if feedback in general is a successful tool for developing student growth. When accounting for different factors such as time and effort, it is essential to examine the level of productiveness inherent in different forms of feedback. This investigation will seek to find the balance between what type of feedback is useful to students and in what form it is most manageable for the educator. Research shows that feedback is undoubtedly a tool to nurture both learning and teaching and given correctly can inform and enhance both students and teachers. Black and Dylan state that:

Teachers need to know about their pupils’ progress and difficulties with learning so that they can adapt their work to meet their needs (1998, 2).

The process of creating and distributing feedback is an essential part of the educational experience that informs both learning and teaching. It is vital, though, to maintain a level of workload that is at once useful to learners and achievable by educators.

Download Practitioner Enquiry