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Teacher Feedback
March 2019


What does the research say about systems, processes, and protocols for providing quality feedback to teachers and whether feedback influences teacher practice and student learning?

Ask A REL Response

Thank you for your request to our Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 RELs that, by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. Ask A REL provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations in response to questions about available education research.

Following an established REL Northwest research protocol, we conducted a search for evidence- based research. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, Google Scholar, and general Internet search engines. For more details, please see the methods section at the end of this document.

The research team has not evaluated the quality of the references and resources provided in this response; we offer them only for your reference. The search included the most commonly used research databases and search engines to produce the references presented here. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The research references are not necessarily comprehensive and other relevant research references may exist. In addition to evidence-based, peer-reviewed research references, we have also included other resources that you may find useful. We provide only publicly available resources, unless there is a lack of such resources or an article is considered seminal in the topic area.


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2014). Using teacher learning walks to improve instruction: Teachers who go on nonevaluative walk-throughs of their colleagues’ classrooms can learn how to improve their own instruction. Principal Leadership, 14(5), 58–61. Retrieved from

From the Introduction: "The practice of observing classrooms has traditionally been the purview of administrators, whether for evaluation purposes or to gauge progress across a department or a school. But this decade has seen classroom visits turned on their head as teachers are invited to go where only administrators once walked. Learning walks have been transformative in the schools and districts we work with, especially in moving from professional development to professional practice. Adopting them as standard practice also marks a turning point in fostering teacher leadership."

Garza, R., Ovando, M., & O’Doherty, A. (2016). Aspiring school leaders’ perceptions of the walkthrough observations. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 11(1).

From the Abstract:
"The accountability pressures of the recent decade require that instructional leaders work with teachers to ensure student academic success. The "walkthrough" or "walkthrough observation" is an instructional leadership practice that has been regarded as a promising avenue to collaboratively work with teachers. This exploratory study examines aspiring instructional leaders' perceptions regarding the walkthrough observation."

Ingram, J., Sammons, P., & Lindorff, A. (2018). Observing effective mathematics teaching: A review of the literature. Reading Berkshire, England: Education Development Trust.

From the Abstract:
"This review examines a range of lesson observation frameworks designed for and used in the observation of teaching in mathematics. This includes frameworks specifically designed for international comparisons of teaching practices and teacher effectiveness, as well as those used for teaching development."

Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2012). Gathering feedback for teaching: Combining high-quality observations with student surveys and achievement gains [Research paper]. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

From the Abstract:
"Many states and school districts are looking to reinvent the way they do teacher evaluation and feedback, and they want better tools. With the help of nearly 3,000 teacher-volunteers, the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project is evaluating alternative ways to provide valid and reliable feedback to teachers for professional development and improvement."

Mihaly, K., Schwartz, H. L., Opper, I. M., Grimm, G., Rodriguez, L., & Mariano, L. T. (2018). Impact of a checklist on principal-teacher feedback conferences following classroom observations (REL 2018-285). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest.

From the 'Key Findings’ Summary: "This statewide experiment in New Mexico in 2015/16 tested whether providing principals and teachers a checklist to use in the feedback conferences that principals had with teachers following formal classroom observations would improve the quality and impact of the conferences."

Rissman, L. M., Miller, D. H., & Torgesen, J. K. (2009). Adolescent literacy walk-through for principals: A guide for instructional leaders. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

From the Abstract:
"The purpose of this 'Adolescent Literacy Walk-Through for Principals’ (ALWP) is to help principals monitor and support adolescent literacy instruction in their schools more effectively. … As they work with teachers to improve instruction, school leaders could use this guide to help monitor literacy instruction in (1) late elementary school, (2) content-area classes in middle and high school, and (3) intervention groups or classes."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources: Teacher Feedback, Classroom, Observe OR Observation, Walkthrough OR Walk-through, Learning walk, Peer, Leader, Principal, Quality

Databases and Resources: We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Research Complete, and Professional Development Collection).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of publications: This search and review included references and resources published in the last 10 years.

Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority was given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, as well as academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, and Google Scholar.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references:

  • Study types: randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, and policy briefs, generally in this order
  • Target population and samples: representativeness of the target population, sample size, and whether participants volunteered or were randomly selected
  • Study duration
  • Limitations and generalizability of the findings and conclusions

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest. It was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by REL Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.