Feedback Champions

Fostering a Supportive Feedback Culture

For students

Feedback: what’s it all about?

Feedback is what universities talk about all the time. What is it? What is it for? And how are you supposed to use it? The following ‘Draw my life’ video tries to answer these questions:

As a student, you receive feedback all the time. It should help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and suggest ways to improve your work. Each piece of feedback is important and deserves your attention. So don’t ignore it! It is your responsibility as a student to act on it and make the most of it to get the grades you’re aiming for. The Feedback Toolbox should help you do just that:

Feedback toolbox


How do I recognise feedback?

Feedback can take many forms but is not always recognised as such, especially when there is no assessment associated with it. Feedback can be formal (e.g. scheduled appointment with lecturer, written feedback on assignment) or informal (e.g. peer feedback, chat with a lecturer at the end of a class, lecturer’s tweet) but in both cases, the content of the feedback is equally valuable. There are many ways that you can get feedback which will help you with your learning. Here are just a few examples:

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How do I act on feedback?

Once you have received some feedback, don’t throw it in the bin or file it at the bottom of a drawer! Read it carefully. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t hesitate to ask your tutor for clarification. Once you know exactly what it means, identify the main points and ask yourself: Is it the first time I get this feedback? Is it a recurrent problem? What have I done about it before and what am I going to do now to improve my work?

It may be useful for you to keep all of your feedback together as it might help you recognise common issues. It might also help you see how you have progressed over time by addressing these problems and how you will be able to carry on improving if you address issues highlighted in the feedback.

What does good feedback look like?

A few years ago, the National Union of Students (NUS) asked students, Course Reps and students’ unions officers nationally what good feedback meant to them, what they wanted and felt that they should reasonably expect in terms of feedback. They came up with the following Ten Feedback Principles:

  1. Should be for learning, not just of learning: Feedback should be primarily used as a learning tool and therefore positioned for learning rather than as a measure of learning.
  2. Should be a continuous process: Rather than a one-off event after assessment, feedback should be part of continuous guided learning and an integral part of the learning experience.
  3. Should be timely: Feedback should be provided in a timely manner, allowing students to apply it to future learning and assessments. This timeframe needs to be communicated to students.
  4. Should relate to clear criteria: Objectives for assessment and grade criteria need to be clearly communicated to, and fully understood by, students. Subsequent feedback should be provided primarily in relation to this.
  5. Should be constructive: If feedback is to be constructive it needs to be concise, focused and meaningful to feed-forward, highlighting what is going well and what can be improved.
  1. Should be legible and clear: Feedback should be written in plain language so it can be easily understood by all students, enabling them to engage with it and support future learning.
  2. Should be provided on exams: Exams make up a high proportion of assessment and students should receive feedback on how well they did and how they could improve for the next time.
  3. Should include self-assessment and peer-to-peer feedback: Feedback from peers and self-assessment practices can play a powerful role in learning by encouraging reassessment of personal beliefs and interpretations.
  4. Should be accessible to all students: Not all students are full-time, campus based and so universities should utilise different technologies to ensure all students have easy access to their feedback.
  5. Should be flexible and suited to students’ needs: Students learn in different ways and therefore feedback is not ‘one size fits all’. Within reason students should be able to request feedback in various formats depending on their needs.

Find out more about the NUS Ten Feedback Principles at

If you feel that the feedback you receive doesn’t follow these principles, start a dialogue with either your course rep or your personal tutor. However, it could also mean that you are not always able to recognise feedback and therefore miss the opportunity to act on and make the most of it.