Understanding Feedback


Types of feedback  

Feedback comes in different forms depending on the nature of your course. You might receive verbal feedback whilst on placement, or informal feedback from fellow students for a presentation. The most common form of feedback at university, however, is formal written feedback for assignments. 

Formative and summative 

There are two main forms of assessment at university: formative and summative. 

Formative is a formal piece of independent work, but the mark doesn’t tend to count towards your final mark for the module. Formative assessments provide an opportunity to receive some feedback on your writing. This allows you to identify areas of your writing that need improvement for subsequent assignments. For this reason, formative assessments tend to be positioned early in a module, or midway through. 

Unlike formative work, summative assessments contribute to your final mark for the module. The nature of the assignment can vary, but summative assignments are often similar to formative assignments. For instance, a summative assignment might require you to write about a similar topic covered in the formative assignment, or possibly even the same, but sometimes with a larger word count. Given that the mark for summative assignments counts towards your final grade, it’s important that you use the feedback for formative assessments proactively. This gives you the best chance when it comes to your summative assignments. 

Receiving feedback 

The way written feedback is presented can vary depending on the conventions of your school or department. Below is a link to a typical example of a feedback sheet where the marker provides their comments. Attached to this is a marking grid which should contextualise the marker’s comments and your overall mark. The marking grid is particularly important because this is what your marker uses to assess and grade your work. Both examples are from Health Sciences.  

Feedback Sheet and Marking Grid

Interpreting feedback 

As we’ve seen with the marking sheet, markers write a number of comments as a way of communicating what was good about the assignment and what needs improvement. As we’ve already established, being proactive with these comments – particularly the tips for improvement – is the only way to learn and improve. However, you need to be confident with interpreting the feedback provided. This comes with more experience, but take a look below at some of the comments that students commonly receive. 

Now move to the next page Quiz – Getting Feedback

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