Your Feedback Should Have These 4 Components

group working together at a table

This article is the second in a series of three posts in Forward Thinking. If you are seeking a model for giving and receiving more effective feedback, be sure to read the first article of the series and watch for the last.

All teams rely on feedback to improve understanding and create better paths moving forward. Regardless of role -- from student and intern to employee and leader, you have the opportunity to provide and receive helpful feedback that benefits your professional development. The HOPE Conceptual Framework for Instructive Feedback is a descriptive model for assessment that includes Helpful, Optimistic, Proactive, and Expert components to further develop student and employee performance. The emphasis with this feedback model is its descriptive nature.

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Feedback Models

Some theorists have attempted to prescribe specific ways to give feedback by identifying where and when to give it during instruction. For example, research by Mory discusses components of feedback as varying in format and scope if given in relation to a specific task, when it occurs during instruction, and when it occurs outside an instructional event.

Other models are even more prescriptive. For example, Norton and Norton’s Essay Feedback Checklist prescribes a specific sequence for students and instructors to follow during writing instruction. However, some research has shown that checklists and other forms of prescriptive feedback that require specific actions and language can limit or otherwise deter originality and personalization from leaders in their feedback.

Although instructors may find some value in having a prescriptive model for feedback because it can alleviate the time investment during evaluation, we intended for the HOPE Instructive Feedback Model to provide value as a conceptual framework for thinking about what feedback must include to be truly instructive and effective (Johnson, 2013). 

What Are the Components of HOPE?

The four components of HOPE describe what to consider when giving feedback.

Helpful: A reminder that feedback is most effective when it communicates supportive, useful guidance to the recipient about their performance that may include a thought process or attitude. In order for feedback to be helpful, it must be targeted and provide specific examples for how to improve or how to sustain acceptable practice. hope acronym

Optimistic: A suggestion that feedback is most effective when it communicates optimism in the current performance that, with modification(s), will improve future performance. The positivity conveyed during feedback must be balanced, providing perspective about areas of strength in the current work as well as areas where there are opportunities for enhancement. 

Proactive: A recommendation that feedback is most effective when it focuses on where the work can be in the future; looking at what steps will need to happen to help the student improve performance. It’s important to communicate the anticipated next steps in a continuum of growth areas for the work, as well as keep in mind how much the recipient can comprehend at any one juncture in the learning process.

Expert: Lastly, a reminder that feedback is most effective when it illuminates new options unknown to the recipient with contextual examples and relevant insights from the particular task at hand. The expertise shared by the giver of feedback may be experiential and can be based on synthesized research and otherwise credible information about a topic.

The HOPE Conceptual Framework for Instructive Feedback is descriptive in nature, standing apart from many other models in the field of feedback research. We advise using it as such – a model to begin with and shape your feedback. This article is the second in a series of three posts on Forward Thinking. Read the first in the series to learn about the origins of HOPE, and continue on to the third to see ways you can apply HOPE in various learning and work environments.



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.



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


Questions? Talk with an Advisor

Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.