Immediate feedback online

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Context & Scale

Using technology to deliver immediate feedback can facilitate and enhance assessment for learning and increase student confidence (Deeley, 2018). Spaced repetition and being exposed to concepts over time helps student learning (Rohrer, 2015). Regular participation in online quizzes may have a positive effect on learning outcomes (Förster et al., 2018). Online formative feedback helps students individually practice and reinforce key concepts, and apply their knowledge in a low stakes way. Students may revisit such activities, review feedback, and reflect on their learning (Gikandi et al., 2011). Further, feedback helps build students’ ability to monitor and control their own learning and gain a sense of mastery over learning activities across the semester (Riegel & Evans, 2021).

This pattern addresses the issue of large class size, as it gives students more opportunities to engage and to connect with content. It encourages students and educators to actively engage in assessment for learning (Bin Mubayrik, 2020).


Students need to be supported to monitor their own progress via immediate and automated feedback when learning, particularly in large units where lectures have been re-shaped into SELF-PACED ONLINE MODULES. Effective formative feedback needs to be “nonevaluative, supportive, timely, and specific”, and engage diverse and large cohorts (Shute, 2008, p. 153).

Feedback should ‘feedforward’ so students are not limited to develop skills and knowledge about content, but also learn to evaluate their own work and that of others (Boud and Molloy, 2013).


Students complete carefully designed online formative activities around key concepts throughout the semester, that are are easy to use and accessible. Feedback is designed to be friendly with detailed explanation. Simple quizzes and questions are provided to check basic knowledge, with multiple attempts allowed to build students’ confidence. Where possible, images and rich media are used in feedback for more engaging online feedback.

Students are also encouraged to monitor their own progress through reflective or open questions. Suggestions and resources stimulate reflection rather than prompt a single ‘correct’ answer. Students could share their understanding and opinions via online polls, or as a chart or word cloud so they can reflect on their position in relation to the class and discuss further.


  • Implementing this pattern requires an LMS, web form, and a quizzing or polling tool with interactive functions that allow students to input information.

  • Before semester, identify basic knowledge to target in the quizzes to support more complex skills and thinking as the unit progresses. Brainstorm probing questions around these areas. During semester, jot down common misconceptions and questions that arise and plan further immediate feedback activities around these points. Where possible, provide mechanisms for students to contribute their own questions for formative feedback.

  • Consider whether students would benefit from immediate feedback at regular time intervals, such as at the end of each week, or at the completion of certain activities. For example, checking knowledge after the completion of a video, or at the end of a self-paced online module. Align formative activities to learning outcomes and assessment.

  • Consider the following principles (adapted from Baleni, 2015; Boud and Molloy, 2013) to support students to construct knowledge and meaning when designing immediate feedback. The principles are design prompts, rather than an exhaustive checklist. Questions and activities:

      • alert students to the purpose and value of completing the activities

      • provide positive, detailed feedback tailored to different responses

      • vary questions and activities, ensuring that they are accessible

      • gradually increase the complexity of activities to build students’ confidence to master concepts

      • use real-life examples that are relevant to learners

      • encourage students to think independently, and to reflect on what they learn

      • help students to document and monitor their progress over time

      • provide opportunities for students to share information with their peers online and to give as well as receive feedback where appropriate

      • provide opportunities for students to plan or contribute to the design of formative assessment where possible.

  • Consider your mode of feedback. Where relevant, use rich media, and embed a video message of yourself, or include images, links etc. as feedback. Studies have found video to be an effective way to give and receive feedback (Murphy & Barry, 2016; Leger et al., 2017).

  • Give feedback in a friendly and clear style and tone. Be brief but conversational. Use plain English that includes personal insights and pronouns to increase a sense of teacher presence (e.g. “We’ll all have slightly different answers because we have different views of X which is totally fine. Just make sure you covered these important points.”)

  • Consider designing in industry examples from ‘real world’ current events to increase engagement and authenticity in the content and feedback (e.g. “Watch the video below. This activity / discussion relates to current debate about xyz. What do you think? Compare your response with other students / our suggestions.”)

  • Build in opportunities to reflect and communicate on the feedback. This can be as simple as thought-provoking questions in the feedback (e.g. “How did you go? Were you able to answer the questions confidently? Which areas were harder than others for you? Why do you think that is?”). Some quizzing tools have features to enable users to flag confusion or give feedback.

  • When students are in synchronous classes, ask students for feedback on the activities and note areas for further development. Solicit ideas on future activities. Create surveys, online whiteboards, or online text areas where students can comment and give feedback on activities and their learning.

  • Check feedback analytics where possible so activities can be refined or augmented in future iterations.

Examples of pattern in use

Core Units of Study in the Bachelor of Commerce

This pattern was tested in these core, undergraduate units with 1000+ students:

BUSS1000 The Future of Business
BUSS1020 Quantitative Business Analysis
BUSS1030 Accounting, Business and Society

The pattern was iteratively developed and implemented. We acknowledge the Unit Coordinators; Dr Anish Purkayastha, Joe Boulis, Dr Bernard Conlon, Janine Coupe, Olga Gouveros, and the teaching teams of these dynamic Units.


Simple, clear instructions prompt students to complete optional interactive activities. Quizzes vary in complexity as needed. In polls and word clouds, students see each others’ feedback to create a sense of community. A sense of teacher presence can be designed into the type and style of feedback. Below is an example of Canvas quiz feedback that is friendly and incorporates rich media.

Technology / resources used

This pattern uses several different online content creation tools, according to the context and purpose. Canvas LMS quizzes are often used to check understanding of a module or topic. Canvas quiz and survey tools are used where teachers want to set hurdle activities and or analyse analytics within the system. They are perceived as more formal by students.

A variety of third party tools such as H5P, Opinionstage, and Padlet are used in context on Canvas pages. Students check their understanding and their answers with teacher feedback and sometimes by comparing with other students. These tools are not integrated into Canvas analytics. Example below.

Poll on a controversial topic where students immediately see what others think
Poll on a controversial topic where students immediately see what others think.



Students benefitted from increased online feedback. In student focus groups conducted over three semesters, from 2019 semester two to 2021 semester one, BUSS1000 students commented that the quizzes and drag and drop activities were helpful to consolidate their knowledge, and were a convenient way to study. For example:

I can just do that whenever that I have time, I can take a break in between or I can just revise it every time that I need to clarify…

Similarly in BUSS1030, students were surveyed over three semesters and qualitative comments indicated that interactive quizzes helped some students to understand course content.  

In a BUSS1020 focus group, some students appreciated questions to check their progress and reflect on their learning or to see the flaws in how they learnt, while others skipped over them if they found them too easy or difficult. Polls were less demanding and also less useful for learning concepts, but they had the advantage of creating a sense of interaction between the teacher and the students.

An interactive video in the International Business

This pattern was tested with 150 students in the undergraduate unit IBUS1102 Cross-Cultural Management.

The pattern was iteratively developed and implemented by a co-design team, led by Sandris Zeivots. We acknowledge the contribution of the unit coordinator Echo Liao.


The interactive video project started as a means of preparing students for disciplinary knowledge, values and reducing student attrition. During the process, the co-design team developed a 10-minute video that would be used during the introductory weeks of the unit and as a resource for future students interested in studying International Business. The video included the following elements: a brief welcome (1 minute, recorded by the head of discipline), an interactive class (7 minutes, recorded by the unit coordinator), and an encouraging afterword (1 minute, the head of discipline). The video was designed with several interactive elements in mind: (1) three interactive quizzes with automated feedback, (2) interactive visuals and hyperlinks that emphasise and explore new concepts, and (3) additional resources for students who want to learn more about the fundamentals of international business.

Technology / resources used

The interactive videos can use different online content creation tools that provide automated feedback. H5P was used to create interactivity for IBUS1102. Other tools can be used to offer similar experience, depending on the needs and context. Students can check their understanding, reflect on teacher feedback, and use extended learning resources (hyperlinks, additional resources), if they need to do so. These tools are not integrated into LMS analytics.

The co-design team noted that the interactive video provided flexible ways to explore the discipline and content knowledge in a safe way. Although no student feedback was collected, the video was used in welcome week (one week before the semester commenced) to help students understand the culture of the unit. For example, in cross-cultural management, there are instances when there is no single correct answer.

Interactive video example


Student survey data from semester 2, 2020 indicated that the interactive video helped students to understand what to expect in the Unit and to understand basic concepts.


About the Authors

Carmen Vallis

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