Using teacher feedback to drive learning

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Feeding back

I've recently been drawn to articles and blog posts with (amongst others) a common thread on the nature and potential of teacher feedback. Giving feedback is something we do, almost as a reflex action, but how might we make it more effective so it plays a significant role in driving learning forward?

Willy Cardoso shared a link to an article Praise be (not so good); thanks Willy! The article reports on a learner’s reflection (Emma Lay) on the teacher's use of praise. It offers a lovely angle on teacher feedback, starting from the perspective of the learner and providing much food for thought. Check it out at

High Demand Teaching
This is a concept, introduced by Adrian Underhill and Jim Scrivener, which concerns ways in which we might make adjustments to our teaching so we can get the ‘engine of learning’ going. In turn, this includes going ‘where the learning is, and exploring it, rather than focussing on correct answers’. is a blog which is well worth following as the writers build a wide range of practical tools for teachers to try out. An informative post on notes and reflections on Jim Scrivener’s IATEFL 2012 talk on High Demand Teaching can be found at

On a related note, the role of informative feedback (as opposed to ‘hollow praise’) in driving intrinsic motivation is an element of teacher-learner interaction which has always been an interest of mine. Here I consider informative feedback to be feedback which will enable learners to ‘identify specific aspects of their performance that are acceptable and capable of improvement by some specified means’ (Williams and Burden, 1997). Such feedback can help nudge a learner to become more mastery-oriented, that is having an intrinsic interest in learning and generating effective learning. For further reading, see Keeping the Vision Alive: Maintaining motivation and protecting effective learning at

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