Students' experiences of feedback on academic assignments in higher education: implications for practice

McDowell, Liz (2008) Students' experiences of feedback on academic assignments in higher education: implications for practice. In: Balancing Dilemmas in Assessment and Learning in Contemporary Education. Routledge Research in Education . Routledge, London, pp. 237-250. ISBN 978-0415955843

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


This chapter explores differences in higher education students’ experiences of tutor feedback on assignments. In the UK, feedback on student work is effectively mandated through quality assurance systems such as the national Quality Assurance Agency’s Code of Practice (http:/// It features in the new National Student Survey (, which is used to evaluate the quality of education provided by universities. Nevertheless, the provision of feedback on students’ academic work is also regarded as raising dilemmas in relation to feasibility and effectiveness. Feasibility is brought into questions by the pressure on academic staff time and the difficulties of providing individual feedback to students who are taught in large groups. (Knight & Yorke, 2003, p.43). Modular curriculum structures are also said to give rise to problems of getting feedback to students in a timely manner (Weaver, 2006). Questions of effectiveness frequently centre on debates about whether students actually use feedback (Higgins et al., 2002), whether they understand it (Chanock, 2000; Higgins et al., 2001; Weaver, 2006) and whether the feedback is appropriately constructed (Ivanic et al., 2000). The positioning of feedback systems as part of auditable procedures is considered to damage the dialogic functions of feedback (Crook et al., 2006). One very important message from research in formative assessment is that, if feedback is to have any effect on learning, the learner must respond to it (Black & Wiliam, 1998). We therefore need to understand how students respond to assignments and to feedback. Higgins et al. (2001, p. 272) suggests that students are likely to ‘conceptualise feedback in qualitatively different ways’. However, most of the research to date treats higher education students as a group, either students ‘in general’ or all of the students on a particular course or at a specific level, such as first year undergraduates. This chapter explicitly addresses differences in the ways that students experience feedback and suggests that we can identify a small number of significantly different experiences which can sensitize us to new dimensions and considerations in feedback practice.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: X300 Academic studies in Education
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Related URLs:
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2009 10:46
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 14:39

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics