Understanding feedback: A learning theory perspective

Marieke Thurlings, Marjan Vermeulen, Theo Bastiaens, Sjef Stijnen

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    This article aims to review literature on feedback to teachers. Because research has hardly focused on feedback among teachers, the review’s scope also includes feedback in class- rooms. The review proposes that the effectiveness of feedback and feedback processes depend on the learning theory adhered to. Findings show that regardless of the learning theory effective feedback is goal- or task-directed, specific, and neutral. In addition, four rules of thumb were formulated that reflect what a majority of learning theories suggested as effective for learning. Finally, some feedback characteristics were considered effective from only one learning theory. The article shows that feedback processes are complicated and many variables influence and mediate the processes. Most reviewed studies did not investigate the whole feedback processes, and therefore, we suggest that future research is needed to further understand feedback.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalEducational Research Review
    Issue numberJune 2013
    Early online date5 Dec 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


    • Feedback
    • Learning theories
    • Teachers
    • Feedback processes
    • Systematic literature review


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