Recommendations and Guidelines

Recommendations from the CTLT for Required Formative Feedback in Universities

Recommendations from the CTLT for Required Formative Feedback in Universities 

The Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) strongly advocates for the implementation of a policy mandating universities to provide formative feedback to students before the add/drop date. Our recommendations are grounded in robust pedagogical reasoning supported by statistical evidence and scholarly references that underscore the significance of formative feedback and early assessment in higher education.


Understanding Formative Feedback 

Formative feedback is a pedagogical cornerstone, representing ungraded or low-stakes activities that promote and assess student knowledge and skills. It serves as an ongoing process that benefits both educators and learners by fostering a deeper understanding of the learning journey. Through formative feedback, instructors gain insights into student comprehension, enabling them to tailor their teaching to meet specific class needs. Formative feedback techniques encompass interactive classroom activities, homework assignments, and surveys (Tufts University, 2018).


The Role of Summative Feedback 

In contrast, summative feedback is typically administered at the conclusion of a topic or semester and is often tied to grades. While valuable for evaluating student performance, it primarily serves as a reflection of what has been learned. It is essential to distinguish formative feedback, which guides ongoing learning, from summative feedback (Tufts University, 2018).


The Importance of Assessment for Learning 

Assessment for learning, or formative assessment, is a pedagogical practice aimed at supporting student progress. It involves frequent, often low-stakes, practice opportunities coupled with regular feedback. Formative assessment encourages self-directed learning, motivates students, and helps them perceive the connection between assessments and learning outcomes. This can involve tasks such as quizzes and surveys (McGill University, 2023).


Benefits of Providing Formative Feedback 

Statistical evidence underscores the value of early assessment and formative feedback. Studies indicate that student performance on quizzes and midterms administered early in the course significantly predicts their final grades (Kim et al., 2023). Specifically, an exam administered two weeks into a course serves as a strong predictor of whether students will fail the course (Winston et al., 2014).


Moodle as a Platform for Formative Assessment 

Moodle, a versatile learning management system, offers a suite of tools conducive to effective formative assessment. These include quizzes, surveys, discussion forums, peer assessment, online assignments, interactive content, and engagement analytics. Leveraging these features in Moodle can facilitate formative feedback and improve student learning outcomes (UNBC Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, 2019).


Transparency and Fairness in Assessment 

To ensure fairness and transparency in assessment, it is essential to clarify the purpose of each assessment task, provide flexibility in task types and weights, and articulate assessment criteria to students. Transparent assessment practices, such as offering exemplars and showcasing assessment tools like rubrics, empower students to understand and meet assessment expectations (McGill University, 2023).


Policy Implications 

We strongly recommend that universities enact policies mandating the provision of formative feedback to students before the add/drop date. Such policies are essential to increase accountability and uphold students’ right to fair assessment (Buddle & Labeau, 2022). Formative feedback and early assessment practices are not just educational tools; they are transformative approaches that support student success, enhance learning outcomes, and contribute to students’ overall well-being.

In conclusion, formative feedback and early assessment are pivotal components of effective teaching and learning. Backed by statistical evidence and scholarly references, our recommendations emphasize the pedagogical and practical advantages of implementing policies requiring formative feedback in higher education. These recommendations align with the educational philosophies of respected institutions such as McGill University and Tufts University and underscore the paramount importance of student-centric, evidence-based teaching practices in today’s universities.



Buddle, C., & Labeau, F. (2022, April 19). Revise the current University Student Assessment Policy (USAP) [Letter to Mcgill Senate]. [Link](

Kim, A. S. N., Frake-Mistak, M., Carolli, A., & Jennings, B. (2023). Does it matter when it happens? Assessing whether quizzing at different timepoints in a course is predictive of final exam grades. Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(3), 138–146. [DOI](

McGill University. (2023). Key Ideas: Assessment for Learning. McGill Teaching and Learning Knowledge Base. [Link](

Tufts University. (2018). Formative and summative feedback. [Link](

UNBC Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. (2019). Formative & summative assessment in Moodle. An Instructor’s Guide to Teaching & Learning with Technology @UNBC. [Link](


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