text that reads feedback

As mentioned in What Is Ungrading?, formative feedback is more conducive to learning than summative feedback. When you offer feedback in an ungrading context, you can mostly or even completely do away with summative feedback and concentrate on providing formative feedback, helping students to see what they’re accomplishing and how they can continue to grow in their learning.

This feedback can be handwritten, typed, or recorded as audio or video—the modality is up to you. Some faculty prefer the intimacy of handwriting; some find that recording audio comments through a program like a smartphone’s voice memo app helps them provide feedback in a shorter amount of time than writing or typing allows.

Also, consider giving most of your feedback as holistic or end comments rather than in-line; while line-level feedback (think “sticky note” comments in Word, editing marks) shows you’re paying close attention to the students’ text, lots of this kind of feedback gets overwhelming for the student, and it can be hard for them to know how to prioritize a grammar-level issue from a structure or argument issue on an essay, for example, if you’re marking both with similar frequency.

Whatever your media for feedback, keep these core principles for formative feedback in mind:

  • Lead with strengths—what’s going well here?
  • Use concrete comments and questions more than broad, general ones
  • Use questions! It puts the ball back in the student’s court and gives them authority over their work
  • Point back to your course goals (including students’ own goals, if applicable) early and often
  • End on a high note

<Return to main page

Next section: Self Evaluation>