The quality of peer feedback

Maarten van de Ven

One of the core competencies for higher educated professionals concerns the ability to present. In their courses students practice presentations and learn from the feedback they get on their presentations. This feedback can be offered by different sources.

Former research emphasizes the superiority of teacher feedback, but it remains unclear whether the quality of feedback actually differs between commonly used sources in higher education. Therefor a team of Dutch researcher studied feedback on presentations.

The literature on feedback reveals five content and two form-related characteristics of feedback that influence  student learning or performance. In this study, these seven quality criteria for feedback were used to construct an instrument to analyze the quality of feedback provided in educational settings. The quality of feedback is considered as essential for student learning. The research question of this study is formulated as ‘To what extent does the quality of feedback differ between the feedback sources: teacher, peers and peers guided by tutors?’ The results of this study demonstrate that teacher feedback corresponds to the highest extent with the majority of the seven identified feedback quality criteria. Furthermore the research shows that for four criteria, feedback by peers guided by tutors scores higher than peer feedback without tutor support. The conclusion is that students can be taught how to offer high quality feedback. Skills courses should incorporate strategies focused on discussing perceptions of feedback and practicing providing feedback to increase the effectiveness of peer feedback.

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