Spare Me the Templates

Congratulations, you’ve guessed it right!… Wrong answer! … Try again!… Better luck next time! If you’ve ever met an e-learning course, you’ve probably met at least one of these sentences. And how much do you think they’re worth pedagogically? Congratulations, you’ve guessed right … not much.

Types of assessment:

Interactivity is an essential part of any e-learning course, as without active participation and involvement, the learning process cannot be effective. If the learner has to perform an activity during the learning process, it is essential that they receive feedback on their performance.

The two most common forms of assessment are qualitative/summative evaluation (usually a grade or a percentage given at the end of a stage) and developmental/normative assessment (usually text-based, issued during the learning process). This article will only deal with normative assessment, whose main functions are providing feedback and the identification of errors; henceforth I will use the term ‘feedback’ in this sense.

What is the point of feedback?

It shows direction – it can help in re-emphasizing the learning objectives and shows where the learner is in the process.

  • It motivates.
  • It helps to identify errors and mistakes – tailored to the learner’s situation.
  • It shows the consequences of choices - correct answers are much better incorporated when the consequences of wrong and right answers are clearly visible.
  • It can provide new perspective(s).

In light of the above, it should be clear by now why meaningless, template “feedbacks” cannot fulfil any of the functions of a real assessment. Even a green tick or a red X is more useful than the standard sentences listed at the beginning, because, at least, they tell you whether the solution is correct, but do not burden you with unnecessary reading.

What is a good feedback like?

It highlights not only the mistakes, but also the good things, which are not always conscious.

Let’s start with the fact of the mistake, then continue with the reasons, and then move on to the consequences. Then ‘get the learner back on track’: bring in new perspectives and/or examples.

An optional good solution is to have a character in the story that to give the feedback while the consequences are being explained. For example, in an imaginary safety task, the learner make a bad decision and, according to the feedback, they end up at the doctor’s; in this case, the doctor should explain why it is important to always be careful.

Never evaluate the learner; the feedback should always focus on the answer given to the question.

If the consequence itself can be the feedback, don’t draw conclusions for the learner. For example, if in a simulation task, the learner has to turn on the signal lights, but they reach out for the wiper’s arm, they will learn more from the wiper being turned on than from hearing a feedback sentence like “Wrong answer, it’s the wiper”.


Moore, C. (2013, January 29). Feedback in elearning scenarios: Let them think! Training Design - Cathy Moore.

Wiggins, G. (2020, October 15). 7 Key Characteristics Of Better Learning Feedback. TeachThought.

Cseh Ágnes Gabriella: A tanulói értékelés széles körű értelmezése a gyakorlat számára. (2012, August 8). Taní-Tani Online.