Feedback and assessment is a fundamental part of the learning process. Feedback indicates both written and oral evaluative comments on an assessment. Feedback can be given by your tutor, lecturer or peers.
- Timescale for feedback
The University’s Feedback Framework, states that feedback should be “timely, supportive, understandable and focused on improvement”.
Feedback should normally be provided within a maximum of three working weeks, and it is the responsibility of your School or department to make clear when you can expect to receive feedback.
- Written Feedback
For summative assessment, feedback normally includes an indicative grade and written comments from your tutor. To make the most of written feedback you can:
- Collect your marked work and read through the comments.
- Make sure you understand what your grade means.
- Read through the comments carefully, noting what you did well and what can be improved for your next assignment.
- If you have read through the comments and are still unclear about how you can improve your work, make an appointment to speak to your tutor or academic advisor.
- If you do need to discuss your feedback with your tutor then make sure that you have prepared the questions you want addressed and that you have evidence to show that you have attempted to understand the feedback received.
- Keep a record of your feedback and review it when going on to complete your next assignment. By showing evidence that you have considered your feedback, reflected on your work and learned from it, the dialogue between yourself and your tutor will be much more useful and you will also be better prepared when it comes to exam time.
- Be proactive and ask your tutors if they would be prepared to provide feedback on your essay plans.
- Oral feedback
Different courses offer different types of feedback. During tutorials or lab work your tutors may give you oral feedback. Some courses have more teaching hours and opportunities for oral feedback whereas other courses have a greater focus on independent learning; approach your tutors if you think that you require more feedback. To make the most of oral feedback you should:
- Actively participate in tutorials and seminars by taking part in discussions and asking questions.
- Make an appointment with your tutor if you feel you need more feedback or if you need to speak about your progression on the course.
- Listen carefully when your tutor is giving you oral feedback during a presentation or during a discussion. By making notes you can go back and look over the comments afterwards.
- Peer Feedback
You can gain a lot by speaking to your classmates about feedback, learning not only from your own work but also from the work of others.
You can create study groups or share useful resources; however, be careful when it comes to sharing work as this might inadvertently lead to plagiarism. Do not copy the work of others and make sure all your assignments are completed in your own words.
- Making feedback work for you
You may require different types of feedback at different stages of your studies. For example, there might be areas where you are struggling with an assignment and you might ask to meet your tutor to discuss your concerns. Alternatively, once you have completed an essay you might ask a friend to proofread it. Remember that different students learn in different ways, and different courses offer different forms of feedback.
By discussing an assignment with others and sharing ideas it can become clearer what is expected. Everyone has a different approach to learning and assessment, and by learning how others tackle work you can widen your range of approaches and develop your own personal style.
Discussion regarding assignments should not be limited to those focused on group work, you can learn a lot by sharing ideas about individual assignments as well. Many students set up informal or formal study groups as a form of regular feedback conversation.
An informal study group might consist of a few friends meeting up to discuss an assignment or even setting up a study group online, via Facebook for example. By creating an informal study space you are free to discuss ideas, feedback on assignments and share resources you have found.
A formal study group might meet on a more regular basis and could, by invitation, even include the tutor. By including the tutor you might discuss common feedback issues so that they can be resolved more easily. A study group also offers the chance to go over past papers together in preparation for exams.
As a student at university you will develop the skills required to become an independent learner. When writing an essay, working on a project or completing a lab report you are constantly evaluating your own work to a certain extent. However, this can be improved by taking a more conscious approach to evaluation. Some examples of this include:
- Checking your work against the assessment criteria and identifying weaknesses in relation to these, which you might then go over with your tutor.
- Comparing your work with recognised examples of good work, whether this be an example from past students, or published work in journals. Always remember to write in your own words rather than copying the work of others and reference your sources where appropriate.