How to Give Feedback | Guide

By bcummings

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The HOPE Conceptual Framework for Instructive Feedback was developed with the intent of providing feedback that is helpful, optimistic, proactive, and expert. It’s important to understand more than just its core components – you need to know how to apply the model in whatever environment you find yourself in. From classroom to organization, the HOPE model provides a universally applicable framework.

How to Provide Helpful Feedback

Providing helpful feedback involves the leader reiterating expectations that were conveyed in the pre-established expectations, and by providing additional resources and ideas for further thought. Helpful feedback is targeted and very specific about changes to performance for improvement or an affirmation of performance that is already excellent.

For example, if employees or students overlook a key resource or strategy in their work, the leader can offer exactly where to find the information and state how it could be used to enhance work performance. Beyond just noting what was missing from performance, the leader is providing a solution for correcting deficiencies in performance.

How to Provide Optimistic Feedback

Providing optimistic feedback means crafting specific statements explaining to a learner how performance is distinguished, as well as how improvements might be made that take into consideration the strengths the learner is already showing in his or her work.

For example, if employees or students show they can create strategies to support their ideas and execute those effectively, the leader might remark about how they are performing as expected and the value of continuing to generate effective work. This type of reassurance and affirmation is helpful to learners and reminds them of what they have learned to do well and should continue doing. Focusing on what is positive and relating how continued behaviors can be beneficial elsewhere in life help build learners’ confidence in future work.

How to Provide Proactive Feedback

In order to be proactive when giving feedback, the leader and learner should be aware of what comes next in the learning process, as well as transferrable skills.

For example, if you refer to an expectation as part of the feedback on a current project, explaining where this same performance will be expected in future work helps prepare the learner for success on that future activity. Feedback must have relevance to the broader reasons to learn or master a specific area of knowledge or skill.

How to Provide Expert Feedback

Providing expert feedback entails further explanation of specific personal, professional, or research-based examples and may involve critical thinking by asking thoughtful questions to provoke deeper thinking in learners about their performance.

For example, if a learner chooses a resource to support an assertion, the leader might offer more resources and explain why these new sources provide value on the topic. In addition, the leader might ignite further thought or alternative thinking in the learner by asking probing questions and creating a deeper and more expert level of thought on the topic.

How to Give Feedback in the Classroom

In the context of education, HOPE can be used to engage with learners through one-on-one interactions, evaluation, assignment guidance, and elaboration, as well as anywhere that educators convey and reinforce high expectations. All of these interactions function as opportunities for building relationships with learners to provide support through instructive feedback.

In the context of being a student, especially an online student, HOPE can be applied when requesting additional feedback from instructors or classmates. As a student, you are going to be more successful if you take an active role in your learning by acquiring the quality and depth of feedback that you need to improve your performance and learn the most you can during courses and programs.

Sometimes receiving that feedback involves requesting additional feedback from instructors or classmates during a peer review activity. You can request feedback that adheres to the components of HOPE to create a more meaningful dialogue with your instructors and classmates about your performance, including areas of strength and areas where there are opportunities for enhancement.

How to Give Feedback at Work

HOPE works as a framework for feedback in any area of life where feedback is given. HOPE can be applied to ensure maximum impact, which is determined by how well the feedback both informs recipients about an observed performance and transforms their behavior or thinking about that performance in the future.

For example, being helpful, optimistic, proactive, and expert works on the job. If you point out a problem to your supervisor, for example, it is helpful if you also suggest one or more solutions for solving that problem. Your feedback to your supervisor is optimistic if you provide examples of where things are going well. The feedback is proactive if you relate how solving the problem will influence future success at the workplace. In addition, your feedback demonstrates your expertise when you share your understanding of the problem from research or your own experience or demonstrate your willingness to learn more to solve the problem by asking thoughtful questions to uncover unseen elements of the problem you have identified.



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


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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