Writing Good Feedback

  • Good feedback should motivate, encourage and challenge.Wise Owl of Feedback
  • Keep your feedback clear, concise and objective, but do make sure you refer to the student’s work so that they know it is all about them.
  • Feedback is ‘for’ learning and should therefore be constructive, highlighting how the student could improve upon their grade.
  • Feedback should be clear, so avoid using language that might be too open to interpretation.
  • Feedback should reflect the level of achievement and include the relevant terms from the grading descriptors (e.g. sound, outstanding). But take care not to be formulaic.
  • Avoid being too personal (e.g ‘I want you to stop being so precious..’)
  • Feedback is about the student, not the teacher. Avoid writing things like ‘I am very pleased to see you working hard…’ – it’s not about you!
  • All summative feedback should also provide formative suggestions for improvement.

Considerations to help your course improve feedback:

  • To enable good feedback, assessment criteria need to be clearly written and unambiguous. Consider using minor course modifications to improve some of the assessment criteria.
  • When a brief is being set, include an exercise to help students understand and apply assessment criteria. This can help them become familiar with the language and terminology used in assessment and feedback. An exercise could involve looking at previously assessed work and asking them to apply the assessment criteria to it. Another exercise might be to introduce a peer assessment exercise further into the brief in which students assess each other’s work. This can be supported by information in the course handbook.
  • Rather than just focusing on ‘feedback’ to students (which invites a student dependency on the tutor), consider introducing the idea of ‘feeding forward’, so that students take more of an active role in tutorials. Encourage students to ask questions of the tutors to help them ascertain what they need to improve and how to go about it.
  • Explain to students that their work will be marked fairly using internal verification processes such as 2nd marking.
  • Explore ways to achieve greater attendance at tutorials and student ownership of feedback. For example, you could design a feedback tutorial form that requires students to prepare some questions before a tutorial, or develop guidance for students on how to get more out of their tutorial or crit. Consider introducing a peer assessment activity to help them learn how to provide more constructive criticism. Have a look at this example from the University of Bristol, especially ‘making the most of your tutorial’.
  • Consider alternative ways of providing feedback to reduce students’ dependency on ‘official’ feedback channels such as the written feedback form. This can also ease the burden of writing feedback. For example, consider
    • creating more peer assessment points where students assess each other’s work in a ‘mock crit’ using ‘critical questioning’ and assess against the grading descriptor
    • using the myFeedback tool to deliver formative feedback
    • encouraging students to record feedback tutorials
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