Assessment feedback can come in many different forms and should be pervasive throughout the student’s journey. From the very first delivery session to the end of their period of study, tutors should provide students with formal and informal assessment feedback opportunities. Feedback may be in form of dealing with a response to a question, guiding discussion in a taught session, in addition to formal written/audio feedback in Turnitin and/or on an Assessment Feedback Proforma. It is important to note that all assessment feedback methods should indicate to students the strengths of their work/plans and direct them in how they can develop and succeed in future assessment.

Key Principles

When choosing assessment feedback methods, the following should be taken into account:

  • Appropriateness - Feedback should align with the assessment brief, learning outcomes and the expectations for the level in question.  It should be clear and consistent and delivered at the appropriate time to be most effective.
  • Accessibility - Students should be able to access feedback information easily, not only at the time that the feedback is being given but also for future reference.
  • Identifiable as feedback - Students should be able to identify how and when they are receiving feedback. Introduce types of feedback being employed throughout the module/programme during the module launch and through personal tutoring. When providing feedback consider use of language and make reference to assessment briefs and learning outcomes.
  • Inclusivity - Student individual needs should be considered when determining feedback methods e.g.  for some students recorded audio feedback may be easier to process.

Good Practice

As a minimum, feedback on a summative assessment should be given within 15 working days of submission using the information contained on the University’s Assessment Feedback Proforma. In addition to this feedback can be supported using one or more methods:

  • Formative assessment feedback - Formative assessment feedback methods allow students to make changes to their work prior to final submission. They can be group or individual methods. See Section 2.4 Reducing Academic Misconduct Through Assessment Design.
  • Feedback tutorials - Opportunities for one-to-one feedback sessions should be scheduled to supplement formal recorded audio and/or written feedback on a summative assessment. Tutorials can be offered in or outside class time. Tutorials act as an opportunity to discuss an individual’s progress and identify any areas for concern with the module and student learning. They allow students the chance to personalise their learning development.
  • In-class discussion activity - In-class discussions on overall strategies to improve assessment outcomes are useful ways of consolidating learning following individual feedback – and have the benefit of peer to peer learning. Group feedback sessions are also helpful where due to unforeseen circumstances there is a delay in individual feedback.
  • Informal discussion - It should not be forgotten that informal discussions during or following a taught session also provide opportunities for students to clarify their understanding of assessment requirements and outcomes. Asking questions are typically the preserve of the active learner, helping to affirm understanding and to direct ongoing analysis.
  • Peer feedback - Peer reviews are also useful for learning and allow students to view the work of others. Peer feedback is often used in oral assessments and can also be used in group work (see Section 2.7 Group Assessment). It is important that specific criteria are set out for the feedback and that the decision on the final mark awarded is that of the tutor assigned to the module.
  • Employer feedback - Employer feedback is often sought in practice-based assessments. It can all be used for live-brief and showcase work. Like peer feedback, it is important that specific criteria are set out and if the employer is responsible for determining whether the work is of pass standard, e.g. for a placement portfolio, then the assessor in question will need to be qualified and trained.

Focus on Employer Feedback

Engaging with employers as part of the feedback and assessment cycle offers students the opportunity to gain real-world feedback on their progress. Employer feedback may feature as part of a ‘live’ or externally set assessment brief, portfolio presentation during professional interviews, placements with industry partners, and demonstrations / simulations with employers / professional bodies. It can contribute towards formative and summative assessments at all stages of a programme.

Formative employer feedback should be scheduled into the module delivery and the intention of the feedback clearly communicated to both students and employers. The student should be encouraged to reflect on this feedback and identify an action plan in response.

If forming part of the summative assessment strategy, employers should be informed of the specific assessment criteria they are required to feedback on and how their feedback will influence the overall mark assigned by the marking tutor.

Employer feedback, whilst focusing on individual students, may also provide a general overview of the cohort and provide additional comments for staff to feed into future module and programme developments.

Further Reading

Dawson, P., Henderson, M., Mahoney, P., Phillips, M., Ryan, T., Boud, D., & Molloy, E. (2019). What makes for effective feedback: Staff and student perspectives. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(1), pp. 25-36

Nicol, D. and MacFarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education Practice. 31 (2), pp. 199-218

O’Donovan, B, den Outer, B, Price, M & Lloyd, L (2021) What makes good feedback good? Studies in Higher Education, 46(2), pp. 318-329

Winstone, N.  and Carless, D. (2019) Designing Effective Feedback Processes in Higher Education. London: Routledge