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Last updated: July 18, 2023, 8:57 a.m.

Providing feedback to students online

Providing feedback is an effective way to encourage student engagement within your class. Whether formal (summative) or informal (formative), constructive and timely feedback helps students to know whether or not they are meeting the course learning objectives. Feedback also reflects that you as the instructor have a committed interest in their learning development. 

Formal feedback (summative)

Formal feedback is the the feedback you give on summative assessment, that is assessments that carry grades in the course. These types of assessments are meant to measure what students have learned and if they have met the course learning objectives.

The main ways of assessing student via Moodle is through:


Moodle can accept ANY file type (videos, program files, spreadsheets).  Therefore, whatever students submit, you will be able to download to your computer to review and grade, which leaves lots of options for assignment design.

Please refer to the Using Moodle Assignments page for more information on grading and giving feedback in Assignments.


Quiz is another important way of measuring students, but its most powerful feature are the feedback options within quiz. It gives many options for providing students with detailed feedback based on their answer. For example, in a multiple choice question where answer A is correct, you can provide specific feedback if to the student who answers question B, C or D. This is very useful in helping students overcome common misconceptions.

Please refer to the Using Moodle Quizzes  page for more information on using Quizzes.

Discussion forum

Although discussion forums are not usually graded, it is possible to assign a grade. You may want to do this in cases where you are asking students to provide shorter assignments over the course of several weeks to keep them engaged in the course. For example: readings responses/summaries, case studies, etc.

Please refer to the Using Discussion Forums page for more information on using discussion forums.

Informal feedback (formative)

Informal feedback is different from formal in that its main purpose to improve learning. It is ungraded or low-stakes activities used to monitor students' learning. Formative feedback helps faculty recognize where students are struggling and assess students’ strengths and weaknesses in order to target areas that need work. Moodle has a number of built-in tools to monitor student learning. These tools provide ongoing feedback that can help you better target your teaching to improve student learning. They can improve critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration in your courses.

There are a few ways to give formative feedback in Moodle as follows:

Discussion forums

This is one of the most popular ways of checking students' knowledge and understanding without providing a grade. Through forums, instructors can see students' thinking and provide comments, corrections and probing questions to get them to dig deeper. It is also a great way for peer learning as students can see the answers of others and give feedback to one another. 

Please refer to the Using Discussion Forums page for more information on using discussion forums.

Minute papers

Minute papers originated in face-to-face classes, but have been successfully used online. This can be facilitated using the Feedback tool in Moodle. Essentially, you ask one or two questions to gauge students' understanding. For example:

  • What is your biggest takeaway/a-ha moment from this week?
  • What question do you still have about the material from this week?/What is still fuzzy for you this week.

Once you implement this and read the responses, make adjustments the subsequent teaching and learning activities, and consider creating a video to respond to some of the questions and/or fuzzy points.


Instructors may also use the Quiz feature to provide practice questions for students. Although there migh be a grade associated with the activity, you can make it clear that the grade does not count toward their final grade.

Please refer to the Using Moodle Quizzes page for more information on using Quizzes.

Feedback during live lectures

It is also encouraged to get regular feedback while giving live lectures. Zoom offers several features to gather feedback forms students including the  yes/no  and chat function. Using these functions to check understanding as you go along will help pace the lecture and also keep students engaged.

Please refer to the Running a Zoom Session page for more information on holding live session in Zoom.

Virtual office hours (via Zoom)

Just as you can schedule your live virtual classes via Zoom, you can also schedule virtual office hours, which is an excellent opportunity to provide students with individual feedback. 

Please refer to the Running a Zoom Session page for more information on holding live session in Zoom.

Peer feedback

A great way for students to get feedback on learning is to organize peer feedback activities. You can use Discussion forums (using groups) to facilitate this.

You can also use the Moodle Workshop activity, which automates the peer review process. You can have student randomly peer review one another. Students receive a grade based on the feedback of their peers. They also receive a grade on how well they peer review others. The system will also randomly assign people work to peer review. There are lots of configuration settings that the teacher can use to control how the peer review process will work.

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