Giving Feedback? Give HOPE Instead

By Ashford University Staff

Giving feedback

This article is the first in a series of three posts on the Forward Thinking blog. If you are seeking a model for giving and receiving more effective feedback, follow along as we reveal helpful practices.

The term feedback elicits many reactions, conjuring up different experiences for each of us. Perhaps you think of a time when you performed exceptionally well and received praise, or perhaps you think of a time you performed below expectations and received coaching on how to improve. Feedback has different meanings for us all because feedback is contextual – its meaning will depend on the circumstances under which it is given.

The Role of Feedback

Feedback from family and friends may invoke a different response than similar feedback from an instructor or supervisor. Your role in the exchange of feedback will change the meaning of the word as well. As a student, employee, team member, or leader, feedback will change in meaning depending on the unique perspective you have. At times, consistent structure may be important for you to give or receive feedback; at other times, components of feedback may become more important when written communication is the primary form of feedback given, such as in an online environment.

Without question, feedback is a central part of the professional development experience at every stage of a career—from student to employee to CEO.

Feedback at Ashford University

At Ashford University, as with many universities, the goal of instructors giving feedback is to create an expectation for students that, like the other materials you receive in class, will be instructive and valuable for professional development. In the context of Ashford University, instructive feedback has a very specific meaning. For example, an Instructor Quality Review (IQR) rubric guides the peer review process for assessing classroom teaching at Ashford University, and it states that instructive feedback is mostly provided throughout “Assignment Feedback, Discussion Feedback, and Discussion Responses” from faculty to students. In 2012, Ashford Executive Dean Dr. Andrew Shean paired full-time faculty members together and requested they come to a meeting that same afternoon to share our discussions on the feedback process.

Is There a Proper Way to Provide Feedback?ashford employees giving feedback to each other

According to the distinguished performance description of the IQR, “instructive feedback challenges and inspires students while providing specific suggestions to improve the quality of their work and thinking.” Dr. Stephen Halfaker and I were tasked with synthesizing the feedback process. While analyzing my own strengths in providing instructive feedback, it occurred to me that some of my dominant character traits – such as being proactive, sharing expertise, being willing to help, and having a generally optimistic outlook – could work as a starting framework for exploring instructive feedback. The more I thought about these qualities, an idea formed, resulting in the sequence of Helpful, Optimistic, Proactive, Expert, or what we know today as HOPE – A Conceptual Framework for Instructive Feedback

The HOPE Conceptual Framework for Instructive Feedback does not describe exactly what to say when giving feedback, but it does inform how to deliver feedback. For that reason, HOPE is considered a conceptual framework in that it provides guidelines for thinking about what is appropriate to give as feedback and how to share it to ensure feedback is instructive. 

Read the second post to learn how the components of the HOPE Conceptual Framework for Instructive Feedback function as a descriptive model providing instructors with guidelines for how to create effective instructive feedback.



Written by Dr. Lisa Johnson, Assistant Professor in the College of Education, and Dr. Stephen Halfake, former Associate Dean in the College of Education at Ashford University



Ashford University. (2016). Instructor quality review template. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.


Additional Resources

These videos provide an alternative explanation for the framework.

Johnson, L. [LisaJohnsonPhD]. (2013, September 3). HOPE – A model for instructive feedback [Video file]. Retrieved from

Johnson, L. [LisaJohnsonPhD]. (2013, September 4). HOPE – What’s next? Grounding in theory [Video file]. Retrieved from


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