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Professor CARLESS, David

Professor CARLESS, David


Unit Head


Academic Unit of Social Contexts and Policies of Education


B.A. (Kent), PGCE (Wolverhampton), M.A. (Birmingham), PhD (Warwick)


[javascript protected email address]


(852) 3917 5893


Room 654, Meng Wah Complex

Research Expertise

  • Higher Education Policy and Practice

Prospective PhD/ EdD/ MPhil Applications

I am not taking on graduate supervision in 2024-2025.

Research Interests:

Feedback for student learning in higher education

Feedback literacy

Assessment for learning


My current research agenda mainly focuses on the following interlinked issues:

How are feedback processes theorized?

How do students and teachers develop their feedback literacy?

What are the theoretical underpinnings of feedback literacy?

What are the feedback literacy capacities required by doctoral students and supervisors?

What feedback seeking strategies are used by students, and how can these be nurtured?

How and why do teachers change their feedback practices?

  1. Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme 2021-22
  2. Principal Fellow of Advance HE 2017
  3. Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award (Team) 2017
  4. University Outstanding Teacher Award 2016
  5. Research Output prize 2016 for: Excellence in University Assessment: learning from award-winning practice
  6. Faculty Teaching Excellence Award 2015
  7. Faculty Outstanding Researcher Award 2013
  8. Faculty Outstanding Research Student Supervisor Award 2012
  9. Research Output Prize 2011 for: From testing to productive student learning: implementing formative assessment in Confucian-heritage settings
  10. Kings College London-HKU Fellowship 2011

Principal Investigator (PI)


Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme (HSSPFS) Award

  1. Feedback literacy for lifelong learning: new pathways for research and practice (January 2022 - December 2022). Research Grants Council - $319,600.


General Research Fund (GRF)

  1. Theorizing feedback processes in higher education (January 2018 - July 2020). Research Grants Council - $571,494.
  2. Exploring a learning-oriented assessment framework: theorizing through case studies of award-winning teachers (November 2012 - October 2014). Research Grants Council - $661,926.
  3. Developing formative instructional power from internal school tests (December 2009 - November 2011). Research Grants Council - $492,200.
  4. The implementation of assessment for learning in primary school English language teaching (September 2006 - March 2009). Research Grants Council - $459,282.


Teaching Development Grant (TDG)

  1. Developing automated feedback: Enhancing synergies between principles of effective feedback and automated feedback practices (August 2023 - November 2024). The University of Hong Kong - $232,124.
  2. Teacher change and feedback practices: Scaling up the enhancement of feedback strategies (April 2021 - June 2022). The University of Hong Kong - $248,882.
  3. Using Innovative Feedback Approaches to Enhance Student Learning (May 2017 - November 2018). The University of Hong Kong - $248,750.
  4. Exploring the use of exemplars (April 2015 - December 2016). The University of Hong Kong - $472,684.
  5. Too little, too late: Exploring the feedback conundrum (October 2008 - August 2010). The University of Hong Kong - $345,836.
  6. Learning-oriented assessment project (LOAP) (September 2002 - August 2005). University Grant Committee - $2 million.

    Citation Indices



    1. Winstone, N. & Carless, D. (2019). Designing effective feedback processes in higher education: A learning-focused approach. London: Routledge.
    2. Carless, D., Bridges, S.M., Chan, C. K. Y., Glofcheski, R. (Eds.) (2017). Scaling up assessment for learning in higher education. Singapore: Springer.
    3. Carless, D. (2015). Excellence in University Assessment: Learning from award-winning practice. London: Routledge.
    4. Merry, S., Price, M., Carless, D., & Taras, M. (Eds.) (2013). Reconceptualising feedback in higher education: Developing dialogue with students. London: Routledge.
    5. Carless, D. (2011). From testing to productive student learning: Implementing formative assessment in Confucian-heritage settings. New York: Routledge.
    6. Carless, D., Joughin, G., Liu, N. F., & Associates (2006). How assessment supports learning: Learning-oriented assessment in action. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.


    Journal Articles and Chapters (by topic)


    Feedback in Higher Education (Journal articles)

    1. Leenknecht, M. & Carless, D. (2023). Students’ feedback seeking behaviour in undergraduate education: A scoping review, Educational Research Review, 40.

    2. Carless, D., J. Jung & Y. Li (2023). Feedback as socialization in doctoral education: Towards the enactment of authentic feedback. Studies in Higher Education.

    3. Carless, D. (2023). Teacher feedback literacy, feedback regimes and iterative change: Towards enhanced value in feedback processes. Higher Education Research and Development.

    4. Gravett, K. & Carless, D. (2023). Feedback literacy-as-event: Relationality, space and temporality in feedback practices. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

    5. Nieminen, J.H. & Carless, D.(2023). Feedback literacy: A critical review of an emerging concept. Higher Education, 85, 1381-1400.

    6. To, J., Panadero, E. & Carless, D. (2022). A systematic review of the educational uses and effects of exemplars. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(8), 1167-1182.

    7. Yan, Z., & Carless, D. (2021). Self-assessment is about more than self: The enabling role of feedback literacyAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(7), 1116-1128.

    8. Pitt, E., & Carless, D. (2021). Signature feedback practices in the creative arts: Integrating feedback within the curriculumAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(6), 817-829.

    9. Winstone, N., & Carless, D. (2021). Who is feedback for? The influence of accountability and quality assurance agendas on the enactment of feedback processes. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice,28(3), 261-278.
    10. Matthews, K., Tai, J., Enright, E., Carless, D., Rafferty, C., & Winstone, N. (2021). Transgressing the boundaries of 'students as partners' and 'feedback' discourse communities to advance democratic education. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(7), 1503-1517.
    11. Dawson, P., Carless, D., & Lee, P. W. (2021). Authentic feedback: Supporting learners to engage in disciplinary feedback practices. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 46(2), 286-296.
    12. Carless, D., To, J., Kwan, C., & Kwok, J., (2020). Disciplinary perspectives on feedback practices: Towards signature feedback practices. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(6), 1158-1172.
    13. Winstone, N., Balloo, K. & Carless, D. (2020). Discipline-specific feedback literacies: A framework for curriculum design. Higher Education, 83, 57-77.
    14. Carless, D. (2020). Double duty, shared responsibilities and feedback literacy. Perspectives on Medical Education, 9, 199-200.
    15. Carless, D. (2020). From teacher transmission of information to student feedback literacy: Activating the learner role in feedback processes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 23(2), 143-153.
    16. Carless, D., & Winstone, N. (2020). Teacher feedback literacy and its interplay with student feedback literacy. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(1), 150-163.
    17. Malecka, B., Boud, D., & Carless, D. (2020). Eliciting, processing and enacting feedback: Mechanisms for embedding feedback literacy within the curriculum. Teaching in Higher Education, 27(7), 908-922.
    18. Carless, D. (2020). Longitudinal perspectives on students’ experiences of feedback: A need for teacher-student partnerships. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(3), 425-438.
    19. Carless, D. (2019). Feedback loops and the longer-term: Towards feedback spirals. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(5), 705-714.
    20. Carless, D. & Boud, D. (2018). The development of student feedback literacy: Enabling uptake of feedback. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(8), 1315-1325.
    21. Zhu, Q., & Carless, D. (2018). Dialogue within peer feedback processes: Clarification and negotiation of meaning. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(4), 883-897.
    22. Espasa, A., Guasch, T., Mayordomo, R.M., Martinez, M. & Carless, D. (2018). A Dialogic Feedback Index measuring key aspects of feedback processes in online learning environments. Higher Education Research & Development,37(3), 499-513.
    23. Xu, Y. & Carless, D. (2017). ‘Only true friends could be cruelly honest’: cognitive scaffolding and social-affective support in teacher feedback literacy, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education,42(7), 1082-1094.
    24. Yang, M. & Carless, D. (2013). The feedback triangle and the enhancement of dialogic feedback processes.Teaching in Higher Education.18(3), 285-297.
    25. Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M., & Lam, J. (2011). Developing sustainable feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36(4), 395-407.
    26. Carless, D. (2006). Differing perceptions in the feedback process. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 219-233.
    27. Liu, N.F. & Carless, D. (2006). Peer feedback: The learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 279-290.


    Assessment for Learning in Higher Education (Journal articles)

    1. Smyth, P., & Carless, D. (2020). Theorizing how teachers manage the use of exemplars. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 46(3), 393-406.
    2. Carless, D., & Chan, K .K. H. (2017). Managing dialogic use of exemplars. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 42(6), 930-941.
    3. Deneen, C., Brown, G. T. L., & Carless, D. (2017). Students’ conceptions of eportforlios as assessment and technology. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 55(4), 487-496.
    4. Carless, D., & Zhou, J. (2015) Starting small in assessment change: short in-class written responses. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(7), 1114-1127.
    5. To, J., & Carless, D. (2015). Making productive use of exemplars: Peer discussion and teacher guidance for positive transfer of strategies. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(6), 746-764.
    6. Carless, D. (2015). Exploring learning-oriented assessment processes. Higher Education, 69(6), 963-976.
    7. Carless, D. (2009). Trust, distrust and their impact on assessment reform. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(1), 79-89.
    8. Carless, D. (2007). Learning-oriented assessment: Conceptual basis and practical implications. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(1), 57-66.
    9. Carless, D. (2002). The 'mini-viva' as a tool to enhance assessment for learning. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(4), 353-363.


    Assessment and Feedback in Higher Education (Chapters)

    1. Smyth, P., To, J., & Carless, D. (2020). The interplay between rubrics and exemplars. In P. Grainger & K. Weir (Eds.), Facilitating student learning and engagement in higher education through assessment rubrics. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    2. Carless, D. (2019) Learners’ feedback literacy and the longer term: Developing capacity for impact. In M. Henderson, R. Ajjawi, D. Boud & E. Molloy (Eds), The impact of feedback in higher education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
    3. Carless, D., Chan, K. K. H., To, J., Lo, M., & Barrett, E. (2018). Developing students’ capacities for evaluative judgement through analyzing exemplars. In D. Boud, R. Ajjawi, P. Dawson, & J. Tai (Eds.), Developing evaluative judgement in higher education: Assessment for knowing and producing quality work. London: Routledge.
    4. Carless, D. (2017). Scaling up assessment for learning: progress and prospects. In D. Carless, S. Bridges, C. K. W. Chan, & R. Glofcheski (Eds.), Scaling up assessment for learning in higher education. Singapore: Springer.
    5. Carless, D. (2017). Students’ experiences of assessment for learning. In D. Carless, S. Bridges, C. K. W. Chan, &R. Glofcheski (Eds.), Scaling up assessment for learning in higher education. Singapore: Springer.
    6. Carless, D. (2016). Feedback as dialogue. Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, p.1-6,
    7. Carless, D. (2013). Sustainable feedback and the development of student self-evaluative capacities. In S. Merry, M. Price, D. Carless., & M. Taras (Eds.), Reconceptualising feedback in higher education: developing dialogue with students. London: Routledge.
    8. Carless, D. (2013). Trust and its role in facilitating dialogic feedback. In D. Boud & L. Molloy, Effective feedback in higher and professional education. London: Routledge.


    Assessment in Schools

    1. Carless, D., & Lam, R. (2014). The examined life: Perspectives of lower primary school students in Hong Kong. Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 42(3), 313-329.
    2. Carless, D., & Lam, R. (2014). Developing assessment for productive learning in Confucian-influenced settings: Potentials and challenges. In C. Wyatt-Smith, V. Klenowski, & P. Colbert (Eds.), Designing assessment for quality learning. Dordrecht: Springer.
    3. Xiao, Y., & Carless, D. (2013). Illustrating students’ perceptions of English language assessment: Voices from China. RELC Journal, 44(3), 319-340.
    4. Carless, D. (2010). Classroom assessment in the Hong Kong policy context. In B. McGaw, E. Baker, & P. Peterson (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (3rd edition) (p.438-442). Oxford: Elsevier.
    5. Deng, C. R., & Carless, D. (2010). Examination preparation or effective teaching: Conflicting priorities in the implementation of pedagogic innovation. Language Assessment Quarterly, 7(4), 285-302.
    6. Bryant, D., & Carless, D. (2010). Peer assessment in a test-dominated setting: Empowering, boring or facilitating examination preparation?Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 9(1), 3-15.
    7. Carless, D. (2007). Conceptualising pre-emptive formative assessment. Assessment in Education, 14(2), 171-184.
    8. Carless, D. (2005). Prospects for the implementation of assessment for learning. Assessment in Education, 12(1), 39-54.


    Task-based Language Teaching and Innovation

    1. Carless, D. & Harfitt, G. (2013). Innovation in secondary education: A case of curriculum reform in Hong Kong. In K. Hyland & L. Wong (Eds.), Innovation and change in English language education. London: Routledge.
    2. Carless, D. (2013). Innovation in language teaching and learning. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The encyclopedia of applied linguistics. Oxford: Wiley- Blackwell.
    3. Carless, D. (2012). TBLT in EFL settings: looking back and moving forward. In A. Shehadeh & C. Coombe (Eds.), Task-based language learning and teaching in EFL contexts: Research and implementation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
    4. Carless, D. (2009). Revisiting the TBLT versus P-P-P debate: Voices from Hong Kong. Asian Journal of English Language teaching, 19, 49-66.
    5. Deng, C. R., & Carless, D. (2009). The communicativeness of activities in a task-based innovation in Guangdong, China. Asian Journal of English Language teaching, 19, 113-134.
    6. Carless, D. (2008). Student use of the mother tongue in the task-based classroom. English Language Teaching Journal, 62(4), 331-338.
    7. Carless, D. (2007). The suitability of task-based approaches for secondary schools: Perspectives from Hong Kong. System, 35(4), 595-608.
    8. Carless, D. (2004). Issues in teachers' re-interpretation of a task-based innovation in primary schools. TESOL Quarterly, 38(4), 639-662.
    9. Carless, D. (2003). Factors in the implementation of task-based teaching in primary schools. System, 31(4), 485-500.
    10. Carless, D. (2002). Implementing task-based learning with young learners. English Language Teaching Journal, 56(4), 389-396.

    Editorial Boards

    SSCI Journals

    1. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
    2. Innovations in Education and Teaching International
    3. Journal of Further and Higher Education
    4. Educational and Developmental Psychologist


    Knowledge Exchange

    I use a range of strategies to communicate externally and promote the visibility of my research: a personal website, use of social media, and alternative modes of dissemination, including blogging and podcasting.


    Recent Blogs

    1. Changing Feedback Practices in Higher Education. SCAPE blog, 2 February, 2023.
    2. Feedback Literacy for Academics. SCAPE blog, 6May, 2022.
    3. Signature feedback practices and disciplinary feedback processes. Teaching in Higher Education blog, 23 January, 2021.
    4. Latest developments in feedback research. Deakin University CRADLE blog, 30 November, 2020.
    5. Developing learner-focused feedback practices. AdvanceHE News & Views, 4 August, 2020.
    6. Teacher feedback literacy and its interplay with student feedack literacy. Teaching in Higher Education blog, 5 July, 2020.


    Recent Podcasts

    1. Podcast in conversation with SW Chong. Scholarly Peer Review, August 2023.
    2. Podcast: Teacher feedback literacy, feedback regimes and iterative change: Towards enhanced value in feedback processes. Higher Education Research and Development, 26 April, 2023.
    3. Podcast ‘Talking Feedback’ in conversation with Kevin Merry, Talking, Learning & Teaching, 16 September 2022.


    Media Coverage

    1. How ChatGPT can help disrupt assessment overload, THE Campus, 19 April 2023.
    2. Student feedback literacy. FacultiNet, 26 November, 2020.
    3. Student feedback should change forever after Covid-19. Times Higher Education, 20 April, 2020.
    4. Feedback literate students achieve high grades. Times Higher Education, 12 May, 2018.
    5. Can do better: here’s how, Times Higher Education, 13 August, 2015.

    Keynote Presentations

    1. Assessment and feedback re-designs for the generative AI era, Griffith University, November 9, 2023.
    2. Assessment for digital learning: Two provocations, Council of Australian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT), Online Conference, October 28, 2022.
    3. Towards productive teacher-student partnerships in feedback processes, Technological University Dublin, February 11, 20.
    4. Shared feedback literacy: Designing for productive feedback experiences, Queen’s University Belfast, January 20, 2022.
    5. Improvement begins with I: The value of feedback literacy, PhilippineAssociation for Language Testing (PALT) and Pan-Asian Consortium (PAC) International Conference, December 2, 2021.
    6. Feedback requests in ELT and beyond, UK Association for Language Testing and Assessment Conference, October 21-22, 2021.
    7. Assessment and feedback for learning: Beyond closed book exams, Imperial College London, Education Week, June 9, 2021.

    8. Assessment for digital learning, Pedagogies for digital learning series, Lund University, Sweden, March 5, 2021.

    9. Assessment for digital futures, Quality Insights Conference, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, UK, 23-24 February 2021.

    10. Teacher feedback literacy, designing learning environments & prospects for change, Symposium, Feedback literacy: From Education to Professional Practice, Surrey Institution of Education, University of Surrey, 12-13 January 2021.

    11. Assessment and Feedback for Large Classes, Pedagogy for Higher Education Classes (PHELC), Co-located with Higher Education Advances, Valencia, Conference June 2, 2020.

    12. Partnership with students in designing feedback processes for large classes, QUT Fellowship Forum, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, October 31, 2019.
    13. Feedback literacy as a key to ongoing improvement, Bluenotes Conference Chicago, Continuous Learning in the Journey of Higher Education, August 5-7, 2019.
    14. Technology-enabled learning-oriented assessment, Online assessment conference, KU Leuven, Belgium, Video-keynote, May 29, 2019.
    15. Designing feedback processes for large classes, International Teaching and Learning Conference, Nottingham Ningbo University, China, May 10, 2019.
    16. Designing for student uptake of feedback in EAP, Continuing Professional Development Hub for University English Teachers Colloquium, University of Hong Kong, March 2, 2019.
    17. Learning-oriented assessment in higher education, 7th EdukCircle International Convention on Education Studies, February 23, 2019, Manila, Philippines.
    18. Effective learning-oriented assessment designs: Developing student feedback literacy, 11th Taylor’s Teaching and Learning Conference, The Future Ready Graduate: Redesigning Higher Education for Greater Impact, 22-23 September, 2018. Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
    19. Effective Assessment and feedback designs, Inaugural Higher Education Futures Institute Conference, University of Birmingham, June 29, 2018.
    20. Feedback for the longer-term: Enhancing student feedback literacy, 7th Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) Conference, Manchester, June 28, 2018.
    21. Teaching for quality student learning, York St John University, Talking about Teaching conference, June 26, 2018.
    22. Integrating the development of student and staff feedback literacy, The First International Symposium on Unravelling Assessment and Feedback Literacy, University of Surrey, June 18, 2018.
    23. Feedback literacy and the development of doctoral attributes, University of Bristol, Doctor of Education conference at City University of Hong Kong, May 19, 2018.
    24. Peer feedback in second language writing: potentials and challenges, 20th International Conference on TEFL & Applied Linguistics, Ming Chuan University, Taipei, March 16-17, 2018.
    25. Sustainable feedback and the development of feedback literacies, Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Kent, Canterbury, June 21, 2017.
    26. Scaling up Assessment for Learning, Centre for Information Technology in Education Research Symposium, University of Hong Kong, June 9-10, 2017.
    27. Developing course climates for sustainable feedback, Forum on Cultures of assessment, Maynooth University, Dublin, June 24, 2016.
    28. Using exemplars to develop student assessment literacy, Teaching and Learning symposium, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, October 22-23, 2015.
    29. Designing and implementing authentic assessment, Learning Transformations Conference, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, September 14, 2015.
    30. Assessment for student learning in Law and beyond (with Rick Glofcheski) International Conference: Assessment for Learning in Higher Education, University of Hong Kong, May 14, 2015.
    31. Developing formative potential when summative assessment dominates. RELC Conference Singapore, March 20, 2013. Post-RELC Conference, Bangkok, March 22, 2013.
    32. Task-based language teaching in Confucian-heritage settings: Prospects and challenges. JALT SIG Conference, Osaka, 19-20 May 2012.
    33. Tensions in assessment and examinations: A question of balance. Academic Forum on English Language Testing in Asia (AFELTA), Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, Hong Kong, November 25-26, 2011.
    34. Reconfiguring assessment to promote productive student learning. New Directions: Assessment and Evaluation Symposium, British Council, Kuala Lumpur, July 6-8, 2011.
    35. Learning-oriented assessment: Principles and practice. Keynote speech, Assessment as Learning: Learning & Teaching Forum 2011, University of New South Wales, Sydney, May 2011.
    36. Learning-oriented assessment and the development of student learning capacities. Plenary speech, International Conference EVAL trends 2011 Learning by Assessing at University Level: Innovative Experiences, Cadiz: Spain, March 2011.
    37. Ways forward for assessment in East Asia. Keynote speech, International Conference-Multiple Assessment Research Programme for Access English Project, Taiwan, August 2010.
    38. Learning-oriented assessment: Principles, practice and a project. Keynote speech, Symposium on Tertiary Assessment and Higher Education Student Outcomes, Wellington: NZ, November 2008.