Improving feedback

It is important to provide feedback which is usable and consistent. To do this:

  • Encourage engagement with feedback by identifying clear achievable goals, or next steps, for students to aim for in subsequent work.
  • Use feedback to encourage students to improve and progress, as well as identifying how they might have improved a particular piece of work.
  • Consider feedback as part of a developing dialogue with students; students often react more positively if they see feedback as an ongoing process rather than a series of isolated comments.

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Timely feedback

Feedback is most effective when returned in a timely manner. There are tools and techniques which can speed up the feedback process:

  • Web-based assessment tools, such as Questionmark Perception, can offer the possibility of immediate feedback for students.
  • Personal Response System (PRS) handsets can be used within lectures and tutorials to provide immediate feedback to students in a face-to-face situation.

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Pro-forma feedback

Assessment and feedback proformas (also known as 'cover sheets, 'assignment attachments') are used widely across the University as a way of framing and focusing feedback and course marks to students in a standard format. They take various forms, with many Schools and programmes using forms which have been developed for use within their discipline.

Most proformas provide a set of standard headings under which to group feedback comments and might evaluate a student's achievement along a number of rating scales, or CAS marks. However, most proformas use a box for general comments and suggestions for improvement.

Using a proforma for feedback can have a number of advantages:

  • They can assist in linking feedback directly to assessment criteria which can be helpful to both the marker (maintaining focus and aiding consistency of coverage across assignments or scripts) and the student (seeing how comments or ratings relate to specific criteria).
  • A proforma can help with consistency of marking and feedback across a team of markers.
  • Combining marks and comments can provide a manageable means of balancing the breadth and the depth of feedback.
  • Staff and students can track progress across a course or programme.
  • Over time, as students become familiar with a proforma, it can also encourage a shift to self- or peer- feedback.

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Producing effective written feedback

Written feedback is more likely to effective if:

  • Comments are linked directly linked to the assessment criteria and/or the learning outcomes for the course in question.
  • Observations and thoughts are illustrated using specific examples or references to the text.
  • Feedback provides suggestions on how to improve in future work.
  • Suggestions on how to improve give priority to two or three points that the student could reasonably work on.

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