What is it?
When students fail an exam or do not do as well as expected, they often feel ashamed and are reluctant to speak to their lecturer or tutor about it. Therefore, it is important that academic staff foster an environment in which students have the confidence to seek feedback regardless of their performance, as often it is the students who perform badly that are the least likely to seek feedback. Academic staff can achieve this by highlighting from the beginning of the academic year that negative feedback is not necessarily a bad thing and that it can be used to make further progress. Drawing students’ attention to the fact that negative feedback is not necessarily a bad thing at the beginning of the academic year is an effective way of encouraging students to speak openly about their performance.
Although many departments offer face-to-face feedback to students who may have failed exams, academic staff should also be encouraged to focus on students achieving borderline marks, i.e. those who are currently on a B-grade, for example, but have the potential to work towards an A-grade.
How can students make the most of it?
It is important that students do not feel ashamed when they receive a bad grade, and take the initiative to talk about it with their lecturer or tutor who will be able to explain in more details the reason they achieved such a grade, and what they can do in future to improve. Similarly, students who are currently achieving borderline marks, i.e. those who are currently on a B-grade, but would like an A-grade, should also be encouraged to talk to their lecturer or tutor in order to identify ways in which they can successfully achieve the higher grades.