Independent Feedback

Students are the primary consumers of independent feedback data.  All feedback tools send messages to students about their progress, potential, and power to learn.  Without teacher guidance, some students approach these messages with a fixed mindset – allowing learning struggles to reinforce negative self-perceptions.  Teachers must help students to understand  and act on the messages they receive from independent feedback tools.

These tools should provide the student with easy-to-understand data that are connected to specific and useful “action steps”.  Students should be able to identify their mastery level using the feedback and it should be clear for students how they can receive more support if they identify themselves as needing help.  Alternatively, students should be able to accelerate their learning if they have reached mastery.

All feedback should lead to actions that increase learning.  Since independent feedback happens outside of direct teacher oversight, the teacher will need to plan and communicate potential “action steps” for students to take as they receive feedback messages.  These “action steps” should be organized around the two key instructional questions that occur in face-to-face teaching:

  1. “What will I do if the student does not achieve mastery?”
  2. “What will I do if the student does achieve mastery?”

For example, what happens next for a student who scores 75% on a self-corrected quiz?  What should they do next?

If there is no action planned for students, then independent feedback messages have limited effect.  In some situations, the frustration of receiving negative independent feedback without supports in place can even damage student learning and/or mindsets.


The digital learning environment provides a significant amount of data about learner action, performance, and progress.  It can be easy to get bogged down in processing this data, especially if a teacher tracks too much information!  Instead of trying to look at every data point, prioritize the data that guides future action.

Teachers must act on data for it to be useful.  Data that does not guide instruction, intervention or enrichment has less value.  Prioritize data that leads the student or teacher to take action. 

Strategies for Independent Feedback in Synchronous Learning Environments

The synchronous environment provides opportunities for the teacher to explicitly teach students to interpret feedback messages through the growth mindset.  These short interactions are powerful opportunities to develop student self-efficacy.  Students must be taught how to accept where they are while maintaining their belief in their power to learn.  

Key Thought:  How can the feedback turn into “feed forward”?

Strategies for Independent Feedback in Asynchronous Learning Environments

Asynchronous learning environments should still provide opportunities for intervention and enrichment.  By guiding students to take action on independent feedback, teachers empower students to be in charge of their own instructional differentiation.  While direct support will still be necessary, many needs can be met through action-oriented feedback.

Key Thought: What will the students do with their results?

Digital Tools to Support Independent Feedback


This tool allows you to quickly and easily create a single webpage that students can access with a link.  The wakelet page can include images, video, text, and pdf uploads.

Branching Questions in Google Forms

This tool helps teachers create customized quizzes that are personalized and adjusted for student responses. The feedback that students receive  after they answer each question changes depending on how they answer the question. This tool allows teachers to customize “next steps” based on current student knowledge. 

Canvas Quiz Feedback

Teachers who are using the Canvas platform can embed interventions and enrichments into their quizzes. This immediate feedback can include video, audio, text and images. These just-in-time interventions create powerful learning opportunities based on the student responses.

Quizizz Reports

While we covered the Quizizz program in Module 1, there are many report features that you can use to evaluate student performance and mindset.  

Best Practices for
Intelligent Tutoring Systems

In addition to free Intelligent Tutoring Systems, like Prodigy Math or Khan Academy, some may have access to paid programs such as Imagine Learning or ST Math.  Even the most sophisticated Intelligent Tutoring Systems must be used strategically by the teacher in order to maximize their benefit to students.

Easy Note Cards

This free web program allows teachers and students to create digital flashcards that can be printed, used online, and easily shared.  The online practice opportunities help students understand the cards they have mastered and the cards that they need to practice more.