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High-quality feedback is essential for learning, yet many students skip right over it—especially when it’s accompanied by a grade. In 2021, a team of UK psychologists set about examining why, noting that “the best feedback is moot if it is not used by students to advance their learning.”
In the study, researchers compared university-level students who received written feedback on lab reports a few days before getting a grade with a similar group whose grades were released prior to written feedback. Compared to their counterparts, students who received feedback before the grade scored two-thirds of a letter grade higher on a future assignment, the researchers found.
Old habits can be hard to break, but delivering high-quality feedback before scores frees students from “an excessive focus on grades,” the researchers assert. That simple tweak gives kids space to listen, make adjustments, and turn in better work in the future.