Favorite Feedback: Fact and Fiction

Exploring the Disconnect between Students and Educators

Educators work hard to give their students thoughtful feedback on their work. But how helpful do students find that feedback? The infographic below explores the disconnect between their views, as shown in our study of over 2,000 students and educators (September 2014).

Want to learn more? Read the full study for an in-depth analysis.

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“Students don’t read the written or typed comments on their work.”

➡ FICTION In fact, the majority of students surveyed find written or typed feedback “very” or “extremely effective,” while a minority of educators surveyed thought that to be the case.

FACT 70% of students find written or typed feedback very or extremely effective.

FACT 39% of educators find typed comments “very” or “extremely effective,” and 31% find written comments on paper “very” or “extremely effective.”

“Face-to-face feedback is effective for students.”

➡ FACT The majority of both students and educators surveyed find face-to-face feedback as “very” or “extremely effective.” The challenge is that only about 30% report receiving that feedback.

FACT 76% of students and educators view face-to-face as “very” or “extremely effective.”

FACT 29% of students receive face-to-face comments “very” or “extremely often.”


Provide the benefits of face-to-face feedback by considering new feedback formats like voice and audio comments. These alternatives save time and overcome scheduling constraints. Talk to your students. Ask them how they’d most like to see feedback.

“Students just want to be commended on their work.”

➡ FICTION Students report wanting constructive feedback on their work, identifying suggestion for improvement as most helpful. What they reported as finding least effective is feedback limited to either praise or discouragement.

Types of Feedback by Effectiveness

Types of Feedback by Frequency

FACT Students ranked “suggestions for improvement” as the most helpful type of feedback (4.04), followed closely by “specific notes written in the margins.”

FACT Students ranked “praise or discouragement” as the least effective (3.62) type of feedback. They also report not receiving this type of feedback very often (3.32).


Reach out to your students to discover what type of “suggestions for improvement” might help them most. Establish a collaborative dialogue where students can identify and receive optimal feedback from their instructors as well as their peers.

“Educators and students don’t always agree in their perceptions of what constitutes effective feedback.”

➡ FACT There was a wide gap in perceived effectiveness in six of the eight categories that were surveyed.

Effective Feedback: The Numbers

Types of Feedback Educator Students Gap
General, Overall Comments 33.66% 66.99% 33.33%
Specific Notes in Margins 46.81% 73.40% 26.59%
Showing Mistakes 44.44% 68.96% 24.52%
Showing What I Did Right 47.87% 68.16% 20.29%
Suggestions for Improvement 59.22% 76.04% 16.82%
Using Criteria or Rubrics 52.43% 68.67% 16.24%
Use of Examples 65.59% 69.14% 3.55%
Praise or Discouragement 53.47% 56.92% 3.45%
(% indicate respondents reporting feedback to be “very” or “extremely effective”)

FACT Even though 67% of students say general, overall comments about their paper are “very” or “extremely effective,” only 33% of educators view general, overall comments about the paper as “very” or “extremely effective.”

FACT Both educators and students agreed on the effectiveness of feedback that uses examples and feedback that uses praise or discouragement. The greatest difference occurs with “general, overall comments about the paper” and “specific note written in the margins.”


Drill down to what effective feedback means to your students. Download the full infographic and get a survey to gauge feedback effectiveness in your classroom.

Learn more from the full study.

Receive the full list of findings and analyses on student perception of the format, technology, and types of feedback they receive.

Download the White Paper

Understand what effective feedback means to your students

Get a printable version of the infographic and get a bonus survey to share with your students to better identify what types of feedback they think would improve their work.

Download the PDF

Share your students’ voices.

Turnitin is launching a more detailed study in the spring of 2015 to better understand how students respond to feedback. Some questions we hope to answer include: “What makes feedback ‘effective’?” and “What aspects of an instructor’s feedback do students understand?” Encourage your students to participate by sharing the following link to the student survey.

Link to Student Survey