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English Stars and the fundamentals of feedback

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English Stars and the fundamentals of feedback

English Stars 31/7/18


Feedback is crucial to student learning, so it’s important to get it right. From day-to-day discussions to rubrics and reports, feedback takes on many different forms, but there are always some fundamental qualities that make it effective.

Here are four of the fundamentals of feedback, along with how English Stars supports them.

1. Timeliness

Feedback is most effective when it is received as soon as possible. A delay in feedback can have a detrimental effect on student learning, as the core intention and value is lost1. Letting students know how they’re going while they work instead of when they’re finished allows them time to correct their mistakes. To help you give timely feedback in your English lessons, we’ve built the following features into English Stars:

Automatic marking

As well as saving you buckets of time, automatic marking means that students instantly see a tick or cross for each answer they submit. This immediate feedback allows them to self-correct and avoid compounding their errors.

Students also get a second attempt at any questions they get wrong. If still unsuccessful after their second attempt, they are able to view the correct answers to help them learn from their mistakes.


With each student’s progress visible to teachers in real time via the Activity Tracker, English Stars makes it easy for you to add your own timely feedback. Use the digital portfolios, where student progress is compiled, to identify areas of weakness and provide targeted feedback or remediation at an appropriate moment, such as before students attempt a summative assessment.

2. Goal orientation

Having students set achievement goals before they begin a task lays the groundwork for effective feedback on their finished work. As John Hattie explains, ‘When students understand their goals and what success at those goals looks like, then the feedback is more powerful.’2 Students need to know exactly what the task is as well as the criteria by which they’ll be marked. When it comes to planning for success, teachers and students need the right tools for the job. Here’s how English Stars helps:

Learning intentions

These handy statements summarise the lesson content and help students focus on what they are about to learn. Read them as a class before beginning your lesson. You’ll find them featured at the top of every module in English Stars.

Rubric discussions

Supplementing the rubric in each assessment, English Stars provides a Discuss the Rubric slideshow. Use these slideshows to break down the rubrics into easy-to-digest chunks and clearly lay out the marking criteria so that students can set their goals for the assessment.


The rubric itself is accessible to both teachers and students at any time during an assessment module. Once a student submits their assessment piece, use the interactive version of the rubric to mark their work. This appears on their screens (if you’ve allowed them to view results) and is saved in their digital portfolio.

3. Specificity

Feedback in the form of a star rating or mark doesn’t exactly tell a student what they did right or wrong. Neither do comments like ‘Nice work!’ and ‘Almost there!’, even though they can be encouraging. Feedback has to be specific to be effective; otherwise it doesn’t really help students improve. Here’s how English Stars enables specific feedback:

Digital comments

On every marking page in English Stars, you’ll find a text box where you can write feedback. As soon as you save your feedback, it’ll appear on the student’s results screen for that activity. The digital comments feature is great for quick – yet specific – feedback on students’ everyday work, as well as for extensive feedback on assessment pieces – there’s no word limit!

4. Reciprocity

Feedback tends to be unidirectional, especially in the reality of a busy classroom. However, sometimes it needs to go both ways. As a class and in one-on-one conferences, students need the opportunity to respond to feedback with questions and comments, and even give some feedback of their own. Far from interfering with this fundamental, English Stars’ digital platform makes it easier than ever with these features:

Printable flexibility

Virtually everything digital in English Stars is also printable, which is helpful if you like to use pen and paper for student conferencing. Whether it’s an everyday activity or an end-of-term assessment, you can print out work that’s been submitted online, mark up your feedback by hand and then share it with students face to face. You can even print out the digital rubrics you’ve annotated, saving you having to mark up fresh copies when you want to discuss them with students or parents.

Discussion starters

In every comprehension module, you’ll find a Share and discuss step at the end of the Teaching Plan. This involves asking students to share their work with the class, and provides questions (with example answers) to prompt discussion. This step is an excellent opportunity for you to give class feedback and for students to give peer feedback.

In a nutshell, meaningful feedback is powerful; it helps students reflect on what they’ve learned and motivates them to keep on learning. Through various features and resources, English Stars does everything in its power to make that feedback possible.


  1. Opitz, B, Ferdinand, NK & Mecklinger, A 2011, ‘Timing matters: The impact of immediate and delayed feedback on artificial language learning’, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5(8), doi:10.3389/fnhum.2011.00008.

  2. Hattie, J 2011, ‘Feedback in schools’ from Sutton, R, Hornsey, MJ & Douglas, KM (Eds.) 2011, Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism, and advice, Peter Lang Publishing, New York.

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