Repeatedly explaining some idea without perceived progress is frustrating for both the teacher and student. Ideas feel compelling and actionable, but remember, knowledge is both declarative and procedural. Thus, feedback and practice are two halves of one process. Feedback is not effective without an opportunity to practice.

Keypoint: Feedback is not effective without an opportunity to practice

Not all feedback and practice are equal. Too much feedback can overload a student.

Effective feedback and practice

  • Is centered around an explicit set of goals for the student

  • Plans multiple (sometime many) iterations on the same goal

  • Isolates specific issues, works on them in isolation, and integrates them into the bigger picture

  • States the goal in terms of what a student must do and is quantifiable

Shorter feedback-practice cycles tend to cement a concept more quickly. Longer cycles between teacher feedback are useful for improving independence and self-learning. This does not mean fewer total cycles. Rather, students should be prepared with tools for developing their own feedback cycles.

Signs of Failure

  • Little improvement with feedback

  • High student effort with little improvement


  • Practice Formats – Provide effective practice plans and strategies. If improving practice is an expected outcome, measure it (observe them practicing, self-reports, practice logs, etc)

  • Practice Reflections – Ask students to assess how their practice factored into their performance on an assignment and how they can improve it next time.

  • Structured Peer Feedback – Have students assess each other’s work with some process guidance. Students also learn by identifying good and bad qualities in peer work.

  • Rubrics – Helps students create their own feedback loop by providing clear expectations