Tips for giving effective feedback


Feedback can vary widely in its content, delivery, and reception, depending on the person giving it and the person receiving it. Your development team consists of people with varying temperaments, skill sets, and experiences.

This unit offers guidelines and tips you can follow to ensure that the feedback you provide is effective and helps the recipient produce the desired outcome.

Formulate effective feedback

Often, the way you frame your feedback is a significant factor in how effective it is in helping the recipient learn and improve. Ask yourself, What is the purpose of my feedback? Is it just to let the person know that they need to improve? Or do I want to play an active role in helping them improve by providing guidance on their progress and steps that they can take?

It can be hard for someone who's receiving feedback to extract from it how to improve their performance. Clarifying the areas for improvement and identifying their next steps can make the feedback much more helpful than it would be otherwise. Consider whether the person will be able to process, or unpack, the feedback constructively. Ultimately, the person receiving the feedback should be able to use it to improve their skills. As they become more skilled, their confidence and value to the team will grow.

Apply guidelines for providing feedback

Here are a few guidelines to follow as you provide feedback:

Guideline Description Example
Ask Ask whether they're willing to try a new strategy. "I can tell that learning to program is very important to you, and I want to help you in your goal. That's why I'm suggesting that your approach to this assignment doesn't demonstrate understanding of the material. Would you be willing to try a different method to complete this assignment?"
Signal intention Explain why you're giving this feedback. You believe they can reach a higher standard and you take them seriously. "Although your code passes all the unit tests, you didn't use a for loop as required. Instead, you have copied, pasted, and modified the same piece of code five times."
Be specific Identify something specific to improve. Vague feedback can be unhelpful and intimidating. "Are you willing to try to revise your program? If so, I suggest that you review your notes about for loops and run the sample code. Then come back to this program and try to replace this part with a for loop. In the future, you could try attending office hours to ask for some additional help."
Offer Offer a suggestion for a way forward so they leave with more than criticism. "I'm happy to review a second attempt or brainstorm about other things to do when you're working on an assignment and you get stuck."

Additionally, you should try to:

  • Resist evaluating a person's ability. Instead, focus on their performance or the approaches they used.
  • Emphasize their potential to improve, and support their motivation to undertake the challenge.
  • Use rubrics so that your team members can review your priorities and better understand how you think about the process.
  • Share certain feedback ahead of time with the whole group to reduce any sense that different people are receiving different messages.


A rubric is an assessment tool that lists the achievement criteria across work components. It's ordinarily used for evaluating assignments and projects.