What is it?
Feedback doesn’t necessarily have to be restricted to formative and summative assessments; it can also be given on an informal basis, i.e. before or after lectures, during office hours, or on request via email. Informal feedback offers students an excellent opportunity to seek further guidance and/or support on any issues they may be experiencing. This can be particularly useful with respect to formal feedback on assignments, since it can vary quite a bit, and some lecturers only award a mark, whereas others provide much more detailed feedback. Verbal feedback allows students to seek clarification on their written work in an informal setting. This therefore means that the feedback will be tailored exactly to their needs, and will help students gain a clearer idea of how to adapt their current performance in response to feedback.
So that students can make the most out of this type of feedback, it is important that lecturers let their students know what the best way to contact them is at the beginning of the semester. Lecturers should remind students that they can contact them throughout the academic year, as many students are often reluctant to raise any issues or problems they may have as they might not consider them important enough. If lecturers regularly remind students of their availability, it will make students feel more at ease and less reluctant to bring them up with them.
How can students make the most of it?
Speaking to their lecturer on an informal basis is an excellent opportunity for students to receive further guidance and/or clarification on certain matters or concerns relating to their academic studies. Whether this is a question regarding a topic that may not have been covered yet in lectures, or an upcoming assignment, this will allow students to receive timely feedback in areas where it is most needed.
It is important that students engage in a dialogue with their tutor or lecturer and clear issues as they arise rather than letting them escalate, which could lead to them to fall behind at a later stage. Even though students may find talking to their lecturer on a one-to-one basis daunting, informal feedback can be an invaluable way to resolve complex issues quickly. However, students must also remember that tutors and lecturers are very busy people, so they need to give them plenty of notice when arranging to meet them.