Giving and Receiving Feedback

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This Skill on feedback has been written to help you explore the feedback you are receiving, the various forms it takes, and the probable meaning behind it. It is hoped it will also help you consider how to use feedback to improve your marks, self-confidence, and self-awareness in order to achieve your best possible results at university and beyond.

There are three main types of assessments at university, as shown in Figure 1.

The figure shows an arrow with three dots that consist of three types of assessments. The first dot reads, Diagnostic. The second dot reads, Formative. The third dot reads, Summative.

Figure 1. Three Main Types of Assessments
A figure shows three main types of assessments.

Diagnostic assessments are usually carried out at the start of your course. They involve your lecturer assessing your prior and current knowledge levels in the topic so they know where they need to begin for you.

Formative assessments start to appear after you have begun your studies, often at approximately one third of the way into the course. Formative assessments are created not only for your lecturer to gather information to check you are learning from their course, but also as a way of providing you with feedback you can then use to identify and overcome any weaknesses you may have encountered while engaging with the topic. Formative assessments are intended to help you and your lecturer recognise if you are struggling and, if so, where. This means your lecturer can help you address any concerns, issues, or problem areas immediately and move forward quickly, to stay in line with your colleagues. They are often only marked through feedback rather than a grade and are usually good practice for your summative assessment.

Summative assessments are the important ones as they usually count towards your final mark, for either the year or the complete qualification. At university, your lecturers will usually provide you with a grade or mark and feedback on the majority of your summative assessments. This may take several formats. It could be a number and comments in your text or quiz responses through a virtual learning environment or online platform, it could include a recording and a marking rubric. Either way, however the feedback is presented to you, it is your responsibility to engage with your lecturer and your feedback, ensuring you take notice for your learning journey to progress and succeed.

Feedback is one of the most valuable gifts whilst at university studying, whether receiving or giving. When on the receiving end, it is presented by experts in the area of your choice in a manner which is both objective and designed to encourage and guide you along the correct path. Giving feedback is also an important life skill which helps working and interacting with others in a constructive manner. Feedback should always be approached with an objective mind-set, remembering it is being given to guide and support, improve self-awareness and self-confidence, and never to dishearten.

A picture shows a kid looking at a yellow wall with words written in black that reads, believe in yourself.

Source: Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash.

Feedback is something we all have to engage with, but rarely do we consider how to get the best from it. With the correct preparation and mind-set, feedback can be an important tool to improve your assignments and grades throughout your time at university – which is exactly what this skill will help you to achieve.

Suggested Readings
Coleman, H. (2020). Your super quick guide to university. SAGE Publishing Ltd.
Coleman, H. (2019). Polish your academic writing. SAGE Publishing Ltd.
Tepper, A., & Flynn, P. (2020). Learner focused feedback. SAGE Publishing Ltd.
Tepper, A., & Flynn, P. (2018). Feedback to feedforward. SAGE Publishing Ltd.
Nottingham, J., & Nottingham, J. (2017). Challenging learning through feedback. SAGE Publishing Ltd.