17 June 2021: Link to resource produced by Tim Fawns and others at University of Edinburgh [medicine] 

How to use the comparison based feedback method to help educators design their own online courses. 

This open licensed workbook on Agile Course Design for Professional Education was developed by Tim Fawns, with input from Derek Jones and Gill Aitken, of Edinburgh Medical School, as well as external contributors Lina Markauskaite, Lucila Carvalho, Peter Goodyear and David Nicol, as part of an online course to help lecturers in healthcare education design their own online/hybrid courses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This course was designed to avoid entrenched assumptions about what courses should look like, how teachers should teach, or how students should go about their learning. The workbook will encourage you to deconstruct and adapt your course designs, with the help of your peers, while thinking about the probable needs and circumstances of your current and future students.

You can find out more about this innovative approach to course design on the Edinburgh Hybrid Teaching Exchange and download the work book here: Agile Course Design Workbook – OER


7th April 2021:  Update of Student Feedback Literacy Model

Synthesising ideas from Carless & Boud (2018) & Nicol (2020) I present an updated model of ‘student feedback literacy’. This reframing opens up significant new possibilities for the design of feedback practices. Essentially it shifts thinking from the position in Carless and Boud (2018) that feedback is a social construction based on dialogue to the view that feedback is a natural, ongoing generative process that students are engaging in all the time by making comparisons of their own thinking, feelings, productions and actions against multiple resources, human & material. The UPDATED MODEL OF STUDENT FEEDBACK LITERACY can be found HERE


2nd April 2021: New Video and Short Article uploaded

15 minute VIDEO INTERVIEW with DAVID NICOL produced for the Re-imagine Education International Conference where this work won the Siliver Award for Innovation in the Science of Learning can be found .

SHORT 900 WORD ARTICLE SUMMARISING THE MAIN IDEAS but with a specific focus about how to implement them can be found here.


School of Psychology and Neurosciences, University of Glasgow [26 January 2022]

Presentation ‘Generating inner feedback from self and peer review’ by Dr Maxine Swingler and Dr Lorna Morrow, School of Psychology and Neurosciences, & Professor David Nicol, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow to TILE (Teaching Innovation and Learning Enhancement) Network, 26 January 2022.  Link to abstract and recording



School of Education, University of Glasgow [29 March 2022]

Presentation on ‘Active Feedback’ by Willie McGuire (School of Education), David Nicol (Adam Smith Business School) and Gemma Haywood (School of Education), at the Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Glasgow, 29th March 2022.  Link to recording https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.19501531  


Podcast for Jisc UK [1 June 2022]

Podcast produced by Sarah Knight and Mark Lennon of Jisc UK as part of their updated Guidance and New Principles of Assessment and Feedback in March 2022. David Nicol starts by taking through the thinking behind the research undertaken into feedback in the Adam Smith Business School. The core idea is to have students generate as much feedback on their own by comparing their work against information in resources such as videos, textbooks, lecture notes, diagrams etc before they receive teacher’s comments. Suzanne McCallum (Accounting and Finance), Dr Lovleen Kushwah (Economics) and Dr Nick Quinn (Entrepreneurship) then discuss the methods they are using to bring this comparison-based feedback approach to life. They share their findings in terms of how this benefits students’ learning and attainment and they also discuss how students respond to these methods.



Centre for Teaching and Learning Economics, University of London [28 June 2022]

TeachECONference2022 Day 2 Session 3 “New Ideas in Assessment and Feedback”. 28 June 2022. 

Presentation ‘Thesis Supervision: Improving Student feedback by Harnessing Resource Comparisons: an economics example’ by Dr Lovleen Kushwah and David Nicol, Adam Smith Business School.  Recording here 

https://ctale.org/session-new-ideas-in-assessment-and-feedback/  The presentation starts after approx. 21 mins and questions occur from 33 mins to 41 mins approx. 




Recent articles

Active feedback and AI tools: implications for learning and assessment.


David Nicol, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow


Sorry, the link to this article will be made available soon after I upload it as a preprint to a relevant site. 




  1. Dialogue and feedback process
  2. Metacognition and feedback processes
  3. Evaluative judgement, self-assessment and reflection
  4. Improving quality and standards as being the only purpose for feedback
  5. What authentic feedback means if students are generating it all the time
  6. Scope the differences between analytical and analogical comparisons
  7. Identify what is unique about comments from experts as a comparison versus other information sources as comparators
  8. Examine how the comparison methodology could be used to better develop group working skills
  9. Examine how narratives might be used as comparators in the service of emotional learning
  10. Rethink the whole notion of student feedback literacy as I believe that current research is leading practitioners to over-focus on dialogue and comments as if they were the only comparators.

David Nicol 4 April 2021

Here you can find short summary by David Nicol and published by the Times Higher Education on their CAMPUS website. It suggests how one might guide students' learning by helping them activate their own internal feedback using information sources other than teacher comments. Taking this approach has the potential to significantly advance students' learning without any long-term increase in teacher workload. In other words, this is a method of scaling up feedback to any class regardless of student numbers, and of developing the students' capacity to evaluate and regulate their own learning without increasing the teacher's workload burden.  This really works!