Feedback in this Policy

Policy and Guidance on Assessment Feedback for Staff
1. Policy Aims and Terms of Reference
1.1. This policy has two key aims:
 To ensure that feedback processes at the IOE are student-centric and enable
all students to benefit from feedback
 To ensure that the student experience of assessment and feedback across a
programme is coherent and cumulative.
The policy draws on work carried out by a JISC funded project Assessment
Careers1 and the QAA guidelines for feedback2. It is based on a set of agreed and
widely discussed feedback principles (see appendix 1).
1.2. Terms of reference
1.2.1. Assessment in this Policy is a generic term for any processes that
appraise an individual's knowledge, understanding, abilities or skills3.
1.2.2. Definition of Feedback. “Feedback is a process whereby learners
obtain information about their work in order to appreciate the similarities
and differences between the appropriate standards for any given work,
and the qualities of the work itself, in order to generate improved work.”4
Feedback in this Policy is used to refer to:
Written comments on assessments;
Oral feedback in lectures, seminars, tutorials, in laboratories or while on
placement (e.g. in teaching observations);
Electronic feedback on IT-based tests and quizzes;
Sample answers, for example, on end of module examinations or samples
of past assignments;
Whole-class general feedback;
QAA (2006) Code of practice for the assurance of academic
quality and standards in higher education Section 6: Assessment of students
ibid p. 4.
Boud, D. & Molloy, E. (2013) What is the problem with feedback? In D. Boud & E. Molloy (eds.) Feedback in
Higher and Professional Education: Understanding it and doing it well (London: Routledge), p. 6.
Peer feedback, either formally as part of an assessment task or informally
outside of the classroom;
Self-reflections and self-critique.
1.2.3. Feedback can be provided during or following both formative and
summative types of assessment, the definitions of which are provided
1.2.4. Formative Assessment is designed to provide learners with feedback
on progress and inform development. It can occur informally during
teaching sessions or be part of a more formal process of submission of
draft assignments.
1.2.5. Summative Assessment provides a measure of achievement or
failure in respect of a learner’s performance in relation to the assessment
criteria and standards
2. Policy Rationale and Policy Statements
Students in higher education need to be self-regulating, that is able to manage their
learning, make use of feedback from a range of sources and plan their learning5
While some of our students begin their programme of study with the assessment
literacy and confidence to engage in dialogue with academic staff and peers about
their work, not all are familiar with, or prepared for, such a student-centric approach.
Making judgements about a piece of work and seeing how to improve it is a
cognitively demanding task. We cannot assume that all students will acquire the
skills to learn from assessment throughout their programme and assessment literacy
needs to be developed as part of the curriculum. Research is beginning to show that
this can be achieved through giving student early and repeated formative
assessment opportunities where they compare self-assessments to assessments
made by peers and/or by teachers and learn to become assessors themselves 6.
2.1. Students have a responsibility to:
Nicol, D. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven
principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31(2): 199-218.
Nicol, D. (2010) From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback processes in mass higher
education, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 3 (5): 501-517.
Engage with feedback from a range of sources including self and peer
feedback and both verbal and written to improve academic performance;
Provide feedback to peers and assist others in their learning while avoiding
plagiarism and respecting the confidentiality of feedback addressed to
Plan action on feedback not only in the short term (e.g. when feedback is on
draft work) but also in the longer term (e.g. for a future assignment);
Understand that feedback from different sources may at times vary and that
there may be more than one possible response to feedback;
Engage in dialogue about their learning and progression and seek support if
uncertain about how to action any feedback;
Understand that not all response to feedback will lead to immediate
improvement of grades which might require sustained effort over a longer time
Over time to become increasingly independent and able to self-critique and
reflect on work.
2.2. Teaching staff will:
 Provide information that is clear to all students about the nature of the
feedback they will receive on particular assignments and activities and
provide appropriate guidance on how students can progress;
 Include early formative assessment activities which engage students in
feedback as part of teaching e.g. through peer or self feedback as well as
feedback on drafts. See for example a dialogic process in appendix 2;
 Initiate dialogue with students to encourage reflection and future action
planning and respond to request for feedback or for clarification as part of
teaching activity. See for example the student feedback response form;
 Ensure that students have opportunities to apply feedback in both the short
term and across the programme;
 Encourage learners to self-regulate their learning over time and reduce
reliance on others;
Review programme team and module team feedback practice, resolve any
major discrepancies in feedback to an individual from team members and
make improvements to feedback arrangements where possible. A feedback
analysis tool and guidelines are available for self review and team reviews of
Where feedback is discussed in groups, respect the confidentiality of
feedback addressed to individuals;
Utilise scholarship, research and professional activities to develop feedback
2.3. Departments, programme leaders and curriculum developers will:
 Ensure that workload models allow programmes teams and individuals time
for discussing and planning feedback;
 Encourage the sharing of good practice in assessment through departmental
meetings and staff development events;
 Adjust the volume and nature of assessment to reflect a context of enhanced
 Review curricula to ensure that coherent and cumulative assessment and
feedback arrangements are considered explicitly in programme specification
documents and programme reviews including both formative and summative
 Ensure that programme information makes explicit the role of, and type of,
feedback that students will receive in order to manage student expectations;
 Provide information to students and to staff on the deadlines for the receipt
and return of assessed work;
 Monitor implementation of the feedback policy through student evaluations
and External Examiner comments to ensure that learners have a coherent
assessment experience across programmes in the department.
2.4. Learning and Teaching and Quality Assurance staff will:
 Monitor student evaluations of feedback as part of programme annual and
periodic reviews;
 Ensure that all validated programmes have a coherent assessment plan so
that feedback can be cumulative across the programme;
 Provide staff development for assessment and feedback;
 Monitor implementation of the feedback policy to ensure that learners have a
coherent and high quality assessment experience across programmes at the
IOE as evidenced by student surveys and External Examiner comments;
Ensure that programme information makes explicit the role of, and type of,
feedback that students will experience in order to manage student
Policy drafted by Assessment Careers project leaders 17.1.14
Appendix 1 Feedback principles, rationale, goals and examples
1. Feedback helps learners to self–evaluate their work
Feedback that is given to students encourages passivity. To be able take future
action, they need to understand the frame of reference of the assessor including tacit
and explicit assessment criteria and standards.
Peer and self review can be used to encourage learners to take a more active role in
feedback with appropriate guidance from tutors. Reviewing the work of self or others
puts students in the role of assessor and helps clarify not only assessment criteria
but also more tacit disciplinary requirements. Systematic self-review helps students
develop their ability to self-critique. Students have also reported that the act of giving
feedback to peers helped them to understand both the assessment criteria and the
quality of their own work.
Institutional Goal: Feedback processes encourage learners to be active and
Example 1: Students are provided with a space on an assignment cover sheet to
self–evaluate their work and request feedback. Students who are unsure about their
feedback needs are given support on how to request useful feedback.
Example 2: Students share their work online in an accessible forum and give peer
feedback using agreed criteria.
2. Feedback enables students to address performance goals in both the shortterm and longer-term
Students must understand how they can apply critique from one task or assignment
to the next if they are to apply feedback as part of their learning.
This means that feedback must address skills and processes such as academic
writing and self-assessment skills and not only content. In other words there should
be a good balance between feedback that addresses specific module assessment
criteria and feedback that addresses disciplinary attributes and skills at the
programme level.
Institutional Goal: Feedback addresses longer-term programme level learning
as well as short-term goals
Example 1: Students are provided with a) critique on the content of the current piece
of work and advice on how to improve it in the short-term, and b) suggestions or
prompts that will help with future module assignments too, such as how to develop
research or academic writing skills.
3. Feedback includes dialogue (peer to peer and teacher-student)
Dialogue with assessors and peers helps students to clarify feedback in relation to
assessment criteria and standards and to be able to take action. Assessors and/or
peers can initiate dialogue by asking direct questions to the student. If a systematic
method is set up so that students can respond to feedback or questions, then the
conversation can continue. Where possible, opportunities for dialogue should be built
into the programme.
Institutional Goal: Assessment processes are designed so that students have
opportunities for dialogue about feedback
Example 1: Students complete a reflection on their previous feedback and state how
they have addressed the points made and submit this with the assignment. Students
who are unsure how to complete the reflection are supported. A dialogue continues
either verbally or written and assessors comment on the actions students have taken
and assessors suggest future action or goals if necessary.
Example 2: Feedback from peers or tutors contains questions and prompts reflection
rather than provides answers. The student discusses their reflection with peers or in
a tutorial which could be online.
4. Learners have opportunities to apply previous feedback
In a modular scheme it can be difficult for both learners and tutors to judge a
learners’ progress across a programme other than by referring to module grades, but
grades do not give a detailed picture. When students build on previous learning in a
structured way, student progress or any concerns about progress can be made
Assignments which build upon previous assignments give students opportunities to
act on previous feedback. Both learners and assessors can use this information to
judge the next steps, and if difficulties are not being addressed from one module to
the next, then this can be picked up early on.
Institutional Goal: Assessments build on other assessments and so feedback
can be cumulative over time
Example 1: A Research Methods module is used to develop a dissertation proposal
using feedback.
Example 2: Students apply feedback on teaching observations across a programme
5. Feedback is motivational for all students
Feedback can be categorised in terms of praise, recognition of progress, critique,
questions and advice for future development. Each category of feedback has a
different purpose and both assessors and students need to be clear on the purposes
of feedback in different contexts. The appropriate balance between the different
types of feedback can be discussed between programme teams and with students
using a tool designed for feedback analysis. For example, students may like praise,
but they find tailored advice and questions that prompt their thinking to be more
helpful and motivational for learning in the longer term.
Institutional Goal: The purpose of feedback is shared and discussed by
programme teams.
Example 1: A programme team held a meeting to discuss research on feedback and
the limited effectiveness of praise. The team now plans to increase the amount of
advice and recognition of progress that they provide for students and decrease
6. Students have frequent formative assessment opportunities
Formative assessment is essential for learning as it focuses student time and
attention on appropriate learning activities and leads to greater achievement.
Students will benefit if they receive formative feedback early. Formative feedback on
draft assignments may not be submitted until well into a module, but early formative
activities can be designed into modules to encourage students to spend time
preparing for the assignment. With appropriate guidance the feedback can be from
Institutional Goal: Programmes are designed to include frequent formative
assessment opportunities
Example 1: Students write a 500 word piece of early writing and discuss this with
peers or a tutor. They then apply the feedback to enhance this piece of work, or to
write for a longer assignment.
Further Reading
Carless, D. Slater, D.Yang, M. and Lam, J. (2011) Developing sustainable feedback
practices. Studies in Higher Education 36, no.4: 395-407.
Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational
Research 77 no. 1: 81-112.
Hughes, G. (2011) Aiming for Personal Best: a Case for Introducing Ipsative
Assessment in Higher Education Studies in Higher Education 36 (3): 353 – 367.
Nicol, D. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self-regulated
learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher
Education 31 no. 2: 199-218.
Drafted by the Assessment Careers Project Team
Updated November 2013
Please send requests for clarification to
Appendix 2 Example of dialogic feedback cycles
Student makes 1st formative attempt at task
Student gets feedback from peer assessment
Student makes 2nd formative attempt at task
Student gets feedback from self-assessment
Student makes 3nd formative attempt at task
Student gets feedback from tutor assessment
Student makes summative attempt at task
Student receives grade and feedback for the future