Feedback is a process in which learners make sense of information about their performance and use it to enhance the quality of their work or learning strategies.
There are several challenges inherent in this definition.
Process: There is no universal approach for feedback that works in all contexts; a key challenge in feedback is creating feedback processes that effectively uses different sequences, sources, modalities, and so on.
Learners: Rather than focusing on comments, this definition focuses on what learners do. In this definition, information about performance could come from educators, but it could also be generated by the learner, her/his peers, others or even automated systems.
Sense making: A challenge in feedback design is the conceptualisation of the sense making process. How do we make sense of something? What skills do learners need? What features of the feedback process facilitate effective sense-making?
Information: What sort of information is most useful for learners (e.g., multiple sources, modalities, detailed, personalised, individualised, task oriented, metacognitive/thinking orientated, etc.)
Performance: Is a single performance sufficient? Should feedback focus on the entire performance, or only components? How can we have more early feedback opportunities without assessing more?
Effect/impact: How do educators or students know if feedback has an effect? A challenge in feedback design is to set the conditions in which learners have opportunities to demonstrate improvement which is more than simply asking them to do a further task. It necessarily needs to also offer a chance for learners to judge their performance and evaluate it in relation to their changed work/learning strategies.
Quality: Feedback information needs to be targeted towards improvement, but against what benchmark? In a criterion-referenced or standards-based system, comments on student work need to relate to explicit task expectations, however expert understandings of quality are often tacit or hard to describe.