What are the challenges of supporting students’ use of feedback?
Students can find it hard to use feedback for many different reasons (Winstone et al., 2017):
Firstly, the information contained within feedback comments can be difficult to understand, as it often contains a lot of academic jargon that can make it difficult to extract the key meaning (or meanings).
Second, students may understand the feedback information but not know how to use it to improve. The capacity to use feedback well is a skill, and students need opportunities to develop and hone these skills.
Third, students may not have opportunities to use feedback. Sometimes, assessments occur at the very end of modules/units/courses, and there are no opportunities to use feedback to improve in a subsequent task.
Fourth, students may not feel motivated to use feedback. It can sometimes feel like a lot of hard work to engage with feedback and develop skills and capacities, and students may not feel that it is worthwhile to do so.
These barriers are a challenge for educators as it can take time to help students develop the skills needed to use feedback effectively. There are sometimes other constraints on assessment design that can limit opportunities to schedule assessments at times where there are clear opportunities for the transfer of feedback. Not addressing these challenges can mean that assessment and feedback becomes frustrating for educators and it can feel that the time taken to provide comments is wasted.
Winstone, N. E., Nash, R. A., Rowntree, J., and Parker, M. (2017). ‘It’d be useful, but I wouldn’t use it’: barriers to university students’ feedback seeking and recipience. Studies in Higher Education 42(11), 2026-2041.
How can you create more and better opportunities for students to use the feedback they have received?
Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.