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Durham University

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Provision of Feedback on Assessed Work

University Policy on the Provision of Feedback on Assessed Work

(Learning and Teaching Handbook, 6.1.5)

Consult this policy for information on:

  • Requirements
  • TEI feedback policies
  • Provision of feedback on formative assessment
  • Good practice

1. Rationale

The basic principle behind this policy is that students should receive feedback on all modules at some point. For example, if a module doesn’t include formative assessment then students will need feedback on their summatively assessed work to help them monitor their progress and identify areas of strength and weakness in their work. The rationale is thus that all assessed work provides students with the opportunity to develop their understanding of the subject area and to enhance a range of skills which will vary depending on the mode of assessment employed.

For further details on the rationale please see the Learning and Teaching Handbook, 6.1.5.

2. Expectations for TEIs: Providing feedback

All TEIs should:

a) Provide feedback at some point to each student on each module taken;

b) Provide at least some of this feedback in written form, to give both students and academic colleagues a record of the issues raised;

c) Provide some written feedback on all summatively assessed coursework;

d) Provide feedback on all formatively assessed work in some form;

e) In instances where a formative assessment task is designed as preparation for a specific summative assessment, provide feedback in sufficient time as to allow students to benefit in that summative work;

f) Ensure that students are aware of the TEI’s approach to the provision of feedback.

3. Expectations for TEIs: Communicating with students

All TEIs should ensure that the information they communicate to students in relation to feedback on assessed work:

a) is written in a clear, student-facing style;

b) is communicated to students via publication in student handbooks and/or on the website or other equivalent mechanisms;

c) explains the purpose of feedback, differentiating between formative and summative assessment as appropriate. For examples of good practice please see the Learning and Teaching Handbook, 6.1.5 (para. 5);

d) highlights the different forms of feedback that may be made available to students (thus clarifying that feedback may not, for example, be restricted to written comments on essays);

e) includes a specific timescale for when students can expect to receive feedback on their formative and summative work, and contain a commitment to inform students of instances when this timescale cannot be met and the reasons for this;

f) includes a brief explanation of the procedures used by the TEI to ensure the quality and timeliness of feedback;

g) is considered by the TEI’s Management Committee and any other relevant student representative groups, especially in relation to reasonable timescales for the receipt of feedback on summative work.

4. Provision of Feedback on Formative Assessment

TEIs are required to provide students with feedback on all formative assessment in some form. For instance:

a) feedback can be addressed to the individual student (commenting specifically on their work) or to a group of students (commenting on common strengths and weaknesses in a particular assignment);

b) it may be delivered in written form (for instance, email/annotations on essays/feedback sheets);

c) it may be delivered orally (for instance, via an in-class reflection exercise/staff moderated peer-to-peer feedback).

5. Examples of good practice:

a) Giving students opportunities to discuss the assessment criteria in place within the TEI and to explore the implications of this for their own learning. This could include asking students to include marking their own/dummy essays and then discussing their assessment of them against published criteria;

b) The provision of written feedback to all students on formative work, supplemented by oral feedback as necessary;

c) Offering feedback on summative examination work to students attaining consistently low marks in examinations and to those who have performed uncharacteristically badly in one or more examination (as there is good reason to suppose that developmental feedback may enhance the performance of such students in the future);

d) No feedback should breach the confidentiality of the board of examiners or include comparison with the work of other students by name;

e) It is possible for academic colleagues to substitute audio-recorded feedback for written feedback (or to combine audio-recorded feedback with written feedback) provided that the result is a permanent record that is easily accessible to both students and staff and is stored for use in the event of an appeal.