Keynote: David Nicol – University of Copenhagen

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Keynote: David Nicol

Seven principles of good feedback practice: putting feedback back into the hands of the user

Professor David Nicol, University of Strathclyde

Many higher education teachers believe that providing high quality feedback to students, particularly in large classes, will inevitably lead to increased workload.  However, creating an assessment environment rich with useful, high-quality feedback that supports effective student learning is possible without a negative impact on staff time.  In essence, it involves rethinking both how assessment and feedback are conceptualised and the student’s role in these processes. 

This keynote presentation will outline this re-conceptualization using a set of assessment and feedback principles drawn from research (see and will illustrative it through examples of their application in teaching practice. It will also highlight an important finding from recent research - that students actually learn more from giving feedback than from receiving it. As they provide feedback for others they produce feedback meanings for themselves and over time they become better able to make valid and informed judgements about the quality of their own academic work. This evaluative capacity cannot be acquired through assessment practices that are solely carried out by the teacher or where the primary conception of feedback is that of teacher transmission.


David Nicol is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at the University of Strathclyde and Visiting Professor at the University of Padova in Italy. He was previously Deputy Director of the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement and Director of REAP, the Re-engineering Assessment Practices project (, a £1m project examining how new technologies might support improved assessment and feedback practices in three Scottish Universities. 

David has published widely on assessment and feedback, on e-learning and change management in HE.  He was an expert consultant to the JISC UK Assessment and Feedback programme and has collaborated with partners in Spain, Australia and the UK on numerous assessment projects. Current work includes leading a large assessment and feedback initiative at the Adam Smith Business School (ASBS) at the University of Glasgow. Some of David’s recent research on peer review can be accessed through the REAP website. More about him can be found here

Main References

Nicol, D. J. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218. 

Nicol, D.J., Thomson, A. & Breslin, C. (2014) Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: a peer review perspective. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 39:1, 102-122

Nicol, D (2014) Guiding principles of peer review: unlocking learners evaluative skills, In K. Kreber, C. Anderson, N. Entwistle and J. McArthur (eds). Advances and Innovations in University Assessment and Feedback, Edinburgh University Press (available on request from author)

Other Peer Review References

Nicol, D. 2011. Developing the students' ability to construct feedback, Published by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Available here.

REAP Implementations

Nicol, D. (2009), Assessment for learner self-regulation: Enhancing achievement in the first year using learning technologies. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 34 (3) pps 335 -352. 

Nicol, D. (2007). Laying a foundation for lifelong learning: case studies of e-assessment in large 1st-year classes. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(4), 668–678.