What is it?
Although students receive feedback all the time, they often recognise written feedback on formal assignments as the only form of feedback they get and therefore put more emphasis on it. With large cohorts, students may only get a mark on their assignment and receive general feedback given to the whole class. However, in many cases, lecturers give detailed written feedback on individual assignments. This can be given on a separate feedback sheet and/or as annotations throughout the assignment. Lecturers may choose to give handwritten feedback; write comments directly within Blackboard, eAssignments or Turn-It-In; or annotate the assignment electronically using a PDF Writer software, the ‘track change’ function in Microsoft Word or any other appropriate software. Written feedback can be given on a variety of formal assignments such as essays, lab reports, year projects, individual and group presentations, work placements, etc.
Some lecturers give written feedback in other ways. For example, some use themed tick boxes such as methodology, grammar, creativity, etc. When a box is ticked, students are encouraged to seek feedback on this theme verbally with the lecturer. Other lecturers may devise a code, which refer to various comments. For example, each letter of the alphabet refers to comments such as ‘A: missing punctuation’, ‘B: verb tense’, ‘C: reformulate sentence’, etc. Letters are then inserted within the assignment and refer to these comments. It is time –saving for lecturers who often have to write the same comments many times.
How can students make the most of it?
A lot of students are just interested in the mark and don’t pick up their transcript, thus missing out on a chance to make progress. Lecturers often spend a lot of time writing feedback on assignments. It is there to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as providing them with suggestions to improve their future work. A mark is not everything; detailed feedback helps students make the most of their study and really focus on what they need to do to progress. Missing out on feedback is missing out on a chance to make great progress.