Effective feedback

At BU we have adopted the principle of assessment for learning and this is explicit in academic policy documents, particularly policies 6f (Generic Assessment Criteria Procedure) and 6c (Principles of Assessment Design).

Providing feedback on assignments in such a way that it contributes to learning, in addition to justifying or confirming the mark or grade, is an important aspect of this.

What are the features of effective feedback? 

The feedback provided should be constructive, developmental and aligned with the BU generic marking criteria which sets out the standard required for each mark band at each academic level. The statements in the Generic Assessment Criteria are a model for constructive and developmental feedback, which can be contextualised for different disciplines, professions or programmes. For each mark band at each level there are feedback and feedforward statements.

Additionally it should be timely, personalised, and detailed. To provide timely feedback  the assignment submission schedule needs to be realistic for students and staff. For example,  does it provide appropriate space for students to act on feedback before another related assignment is submitted, does it avoid several submissions at the same time, are there sufficient markers to achieve the return date schedule, perhaps with a marking team with moderation to ensure fairness?

Personalised feedback addresses the work submitted and experienced as genuine engagement with the content of the student’s work. One dimension of this is ‘presence’ – commenting as if you were talking to them in a tutorial, using a conversational tone.

Detailed feedback requires that specific points are commented on, rather than generalisations about the content.

Developmental feedback can include providing solutions or indicating resources to  assist the student in achieving higher marks and better understanding in future. These might be a link to resources in Brightspace, specific texts or lecture  content.

There are further resources to support providing effective feedback in the BU Assessment & Feedback Toolkit. Do take a look.



Anne Quinney, Principal Lecturer, Centre for Fusion Learning, Innovation and Excellence (FLIE).

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