Providing feedback on student assessment


Assessment feedback is an important part of the Unit Chair role as well as being central to the student learning process. Students are deemed to be successful in a unit when they demonstrate achievement of the unit’s learning outcomes – primarily through constructively aligned assessment tasks.

Criteria for assessment tasks need to be drawn from the ULOs and aligned GLOs, and feedback provided to students must also relate to these outcomes. It is in this way that students can be confident (or not) that they are on track to demonstrate achievement of the ULOs by the end of the trimester and therefore be successful in the unit.

The communication of feedback to students is addressed in the University’s Assessment (Higher Education Courses) Procedure). Unit Chairs must consider the following in designing assessment tasks and providing feedback to students:

(18) To ensure that feedback to students is meaningful and formative, it must be clearly linked to the assessment criteria and must be aimed at assisting learning, rewarding achievement, providing encouragement, explaining results and enabling students to improve their understanding and performance.

(19) Unit Chairs ensure that the purposes, processes, requirements and standards of assessment in a unit are clearly communicated to students at the beginning of and throughout each study period. Information about assessment is included in the University Handbook and unit guides as specified in the Course Design and Delivery Procedure.

(20) Students should receive feedback on assessment tasks in time to benefit them in preparing for the next assessment task. Students who submit their work by the original due date should normally be provided with feedback within 15 working days.

(21) Students may request feedback from the Unit Chair on their performance in an examination within four weeks of the examination.

An audit of assessment and feedback practices conducted in the Faculty in 2018 indicated that student satisfaction with the feedback they receive is lower in comparison to other scales. That is, they are more dissatisfied with feedback than with other teaching practices.

Some key issues identified in the audit and from a review of literature on feedback and assessment practice found that:

  • There’s a poor understanding of what constitutes feedback (staff and students)
  • Feedback tends to be monologic rather than dialogic (that is, feedback serves as information from the marker to the student without the need for students to do something with that feedback)
  • Feedback tends towards justifying the grade rather than improving student performance

One of the ways of addressing some of these issues is to explicitly talk about assessment and feedback practices with students, to provide opportunities for students to articulate their expectations and understanding of feedback and to give them an insight into your own understandings as a way of managing their expectations.

Feedback can be given to students in many ways. Rubrics are useful to show students how their work meets or does not meet the standard required for each criterion. However, rubrics do not always address the concerns raised above. Additional and personalised feedback can be given verbally through video or audio recordings as well as in written form, acknowledging what the student did well in relation to the criteria and giving them a limited number of practical suggestions for how they might improve their future work.

Sometimes class-level feedback allows students to measure their performance against their peers. Whichever method is used, feedback should focus on what was done well and what can be improved.

To help with improving feedback practice within FBL, Learning Innovations has produced a Feedback tool, highlighting that good feedback is: performance-oriented, personalised and empathic, objectively evaluated, and requires knowledge of the criteria and standards.

More information on assessment and feedback can also be found in Chapter 5 of Deakin’s Leading Courses publication.

If you want to learn more about feedback practices contact the Learning Innovations’ Teaching and Learning team.