Are your students satisfied with the feedback that they receive?

If you are like most university teachers, you’ve probably given a nervous laugh or an eye roll at this point.


One large-scale review after another, students seem to be strongly dissatisfied with the feedback they receive at universities.

A common explanation is funding. Most marking is done by casual staff members and their time is capped at around 20 minutes per assignment. They do their best, but there is a limit to what a person can do in 20 minutes, right?

Yes, absolutely (although there are some time-saving techniques, like using the audio feedback, etc, which I’ll cover in a different post).

However, feedback can and, in fact, should be seen as MORE than providing feedback on assignments.

There are many types of feedback and feed-forward strategies that can provide students with valuable feedback in lectures, tutorials and iLearn sites.

I’ve summarised the key ones in this Quick Guide. Please download and share with others.

Alternatively, keep reading and leave your comments under the post!

Progressive (ongoing) assessment

Progressive assessment refers to interlinked assessments, e.g., when a large project is divided into smaller sub-projects with each assessed and/OR given feedback on.

In other words, it requires students to build on their work in several discrete but interlinked assessment tasks.

The advantage of this approach is providing students with regular feedback that they can action before their next submission.

Bonus: It may also reduce the use of essay mills.

More ‘whole-class’ feed-forward

Providing each student with personalized feedback is not always feasible or even necessary. Often, feedback and ‘feed-forward’ to the whole group is more effective as it allows for discussions, clarifications, and student community-building, ideally prior to assignment submission. Consider the following activities:

Discuss ‘common’ issues PRIOR to submission

Set aside regular times for upcoming assignment Q&A and a discussion of common issues. Where possible, share examples of previous student work to illustrate common issues and explain how these common issues can be addressed. This can be done in a lecture, tutorial or as an additional video or resource and a discussion in iLearn.

Discuss ‘common issues’ PRIOR to marks release

Provide students with a ‘group feedback’ after the assessment has been marked but not released yet. It will prepare the students for the upcoming feedback and is likely to improve feedback effectiveness.

Hold a post-release Q&A session

Set aside time to answer student questions about their assignment feedback, especially for on-going assignments. Ask students to formulate actionable steps and, if relevant, form peer groups to address common issues.

Rubric demystification

Increase student assessment competency by allocating the time to discuss rubrics. You can:

  • Create a video that explains the differences between achievement levels in your rubric
  • Provide students with anonomysed past work and get them to mark it using the rubric
  • Allocate some time to answer student questions about the rubric

Provide model examples

Provide 2-3 model assignments (either anonymised work of past students or created by teaching staff) accompanied by marked rubrics and feedback and set aside some time to answer student questions. This pre-emptive ‘feed-forward’ measure can dramatically increase student achievement.

Note: the examples can include a range of achievements

Include peer review

Ask students to bring work-in-progress and use the assessment rubric to provide each other with feedback. Incentivize this activity by assigning a small grade OR by adding/deducting participation marks for the assignment.

Ask for a self-completed rubric

Ask students to include a self-assessment as a part of assignment submission. Students should rank themselves on the rubric and, ideally, nominate 1-2 areas that they would particularly like some feedback on.

Require an ‘action taken’ summary

Ask students to include a summary that they received from peers and/or staff on preceding assessments and how they addressed these points in this assessment.

Encourage good practice in marking and feedback

When coordinating the work of other markers, moderate the marking and promote good practice in feedback. See this Quick Guide on Marking for more information.

Want more?

Explore this topic further …
An interactive tool for new markers
Feedback For Learning Coffee Course

Image credits: Freepik

Posted by Olga Kozar

I'm a 'long-term' Mq girl. I did my PhD here and taught on different courses, ranging from 1st year to PhD students. I now work in Learning and Teaching, which I love. I have 2 young kids and a dog, and I love meeting other Mq people, so give me a shout if you'd like to talk 'learning and teaching' or would like to brainstorm together.

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