Feedback


Sample Cases from Dublin Institute of Technology

See some samples cases for this assessment method in the table below or browse the full set of cases in the assessment toolkit.

Assessment MethodLecturerAssociated Programme(s)NFQ LevelYear
Formative Feedback Noel Fitzpatrick BA Visual and Critical Studies Level 8 Years 1-4
Problem Based Learning Brenda Dermody BA Design (Visual Communication) Level 8 Years 3-4
Marking Rubrics Jane Courtney BE Electrical / Electronic Engineering
BEngTech Electrical and Control Engineering
BSc Computing
BSc Computer Science
MSc in Energy Management
Levels 7, 8, 9 Years 2, 4

[Return to the Assessment Toolkit]


Description

Feedback is an integral part of assessment in order for student’s to be able to develop their skills. The key issue for the lecturer is how to provide such feedback. Wiggins distinguishes between feedback, guidance and evaluation noting that ‘Feedback tells me whether I am on course, guidance tells me the most likely ways to achieve my goal [and] evaluation tells me whether I am or have been sufficiently on course to be deemed competent or successful’. From the lecturers perspective the first decision in terms of feedback is what it will entail and what the purpose is of the said feedback.

Methods of Feedback

  • Written comments on the piece of work
  • A score or mark
  • A completed grid or marking sheet
  • General verbal feedback to the group about the group’s performance
  • One on one meetings to give verbal feedback
  • Using technology to record verbal feedback for each individual piece of work
  • Feedback can also be consistent throughout the module in the classroom, lab or lecture room rather than just on a piece of assessment
  • Feedback can also take the form of peer feedback

Giving Feedback

David Boud provides helpful suggestions for giving feedback and these are included here: (as cited by McCullough)

If you wish to give helpful feedback, you should:

  • Be realistic. Direct your comments towards matters on which the person can act. Don’t make suggestions which are entirely outside the scope of what the person can do. Constructive comments can be helpful so long as they respect the other person’s way of doing things.
  • Be specific. Generalisations are particularly unhelpful. Base your comments on concrete observable behaviours or materials. Always check your general impressions or inferences against the particular and use the particular in your response. Focusing on behaviour implies that it is something related to a specific situation that might be changed. The person should be given sufficient information to pinpoint the areas to which you are referring and have a clear idea about what is being said about those specific areas. Provide examples.
  • Be sensitive to the goals of the person. Just because the other person’s contributions have not met your goals doesn’t necessarily imply that something is wrong. The person produced the work for a specific purpose and you should be aware of that purpose and give your views accordingly. This is not to say that you can’t make comments from your own perspective but that you should say this is what you are doing. Link your comments to their intentions; listen carefully to what they have to say. If there is a common task goal, be careful to ensure that you have a shared interpretation of what that means.
  • Be timely. Time your comments appropriately. It is no use offering feedback after the person receiving it has put the work aside and moved on to other things. Respond promptly when your feedback is requested: to be effective feedback must be well-timed. Be descriptive. Describe your views. Don’t be evaluative or say what you think the person should feel. Don’t be emotionally manipulative: you are offering your considered views which should have the characteristics described here; it is up to the other person to accept or reject them as he or she sees fit.
  • Be consciously non-judgemental. Offer your personal view, do not act as an authority even if you may be one elsewhere. Give your personal reactions and feelings rather than value-laden statements. One way of doing this is to use comments of the type, ‘I feel … when you ….’
  • Don’t compare. Treat each person’s work as their own, not part of some supposed competition with others. Be cautious about giving feedback in a context in which the comments which you give one person will be compared with those of another. Such comparisons undermine intrinsic motivation.
  • Be diligent. Check your response. Is it an accurate reflection of what you want to express? Have you perceived the contribution accurately? There is nothing more annoying than to receive criticism from someone who clearly hasn’t bothered to pay attention to what you have done. Be direct. Say what you mean. Don’t wrap it up in circumlocution, fancy words or abstract language.
  • Be positive. Say what you appreciate. Don’t just focus on what you react negatively towards. Try to find something which is genuinely felt, rather than being positive because you feel it is required.
  • Be aware. Note your own emotional state before you give feedback. If you are anxious or defensive you may well distort otherwise helpful comments. Feedback is never a time for you to relieve yourself at the expense of the other person. Move to a focus on the person to whom you are relating and their needs, not yourself, before responding in any way. Don’t overload them just because you have a lot to give.

Institutional norms

See the DIT assessment handbook.

Many institutions have guidelines which must be followed by academic staff when delivering feedback. A good example is Queen Margaret University.

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