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Feedback: What you can expect

Tuesday 24 March 2009 Feedback

NUS has talked with students, Course Reps and students’ unions officers nationally to find out exactly what students want and feel that they should reasonably expect in terms of feedback.

This consultation resulted in the following ten principles of good feedback, and the NUS Feedback Amnesty.

Ten Feedback Principles:

  1. Should be for learning, not just of learning
    Feedback should be primarily used as a learning tool and therefore positioned for learning rather than as a measure of learning.
  2. Should be a continuous process
    Rather than a one-off event after assessment, feedback should be part of continuous guided learning and an integral part of the learning experience.
  3. Should be timely 
    Feedback should be provided in a timely manner, allowing students to apply it to future learning and assessments. This timeframe needs to be communicated to students.
  4. Should relate to clear criteria
    Objectives for assessment and grade criteria need to be clearly communicated to, and fully understood by, students. Subsequent feedback should be provided primarily in relation to this.
  5. Should be constructive
    If feedback is to be constructive it needs to be concise, focused and meaningful to feed-forward, highlighting what is going well and what can be improved.
  6. Should be legible and clear
    Feedback should be written in plain language so it can be easily understood by all students, enabling them to engage with it and support future learning.
  7. Should be provided on exams
    Exams make up a high proportion of assessment and students should receive feedback on how well they did and how they could improve for the next time.
  8. Should include self-assessment and peer-to-peer feedback
    Feedback from peers and self-assessment practices can play a powerful role in learning by encouraging reassessment of personal beliefs and interpretations.
  9. Should be accessible to all students
    Not all students are full-time, campus based and so universities should utilise different technologies to ensure all students have easy access to their feedback.
  10. Should be flexible and suited to students’ needs
    Students learn in different ways and therefore feedback is not ‘one size fits all’. Within reason students should be able to request feedback in various formats depending on their needs.

How Course Reps can take action

Regardless of the type of course or method of feedback, students agree that feedback is a vital means for them to improve, develop and get the most out of their courses.

Looking at the feedback principles above, ask yourself:

  • are students on your course or in your department consistently receiving the kind of feedback above?
  • how can feedback be improved or better suit the needs of students on your course?

Further information: