Learning and teaching

Types of Feedback

This section focuses on the most common types of feedback such as audio-visual feedback, exam feedback, whole class feedback, ipsative feedback and touches upon aspects of feeding forward. It outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Audio-Visual Feedback

The benefits

Audio-visual feedback is becoming more widely adopted and offers an innovative way of providing feedback to students. The benefits of audio feedback over written feedback include:

  • more personal communication of outcomes
  • more understandable feedback
  • more feedback is given
  • anytime access to feedback for students
  • better use of feedback by students as they can't be selective as to what they pay attention to.

Saving time

Don't expect to save time immediately. It takes some time to develop fluency and figure out your own way of approaching the task. Focus on payback in the longer term, eventually, the process will become easy and quick. How much time audio-visual feedback will save you, depends on your written feedback practices. If you don't usually give a lot of feedback and rely on using a marking grid and ticking the appropriate box, audio feedback will not be a time-saving activity for you. What it will give you though, or more likely your students, is feedback of better quality which is more detailed and more useful. With time and practice, the time spent recording will decrease without the loss of quality.

Technologies you could use include:

  • Adobe Connect – a licence is needed. Students receive a link to a recording. Audio and video.
  • Panopto – Students receive a link to a recording. Audio and video.
  • Turn-it-in (Grademark) – audio feedback option is available in GradeMark, 3-minute messages can be recorded best used for overall evaluation of the work.
  • Camtasia – free software that allows you to capture your screen with audio commentary.
  • Microsoft Word allows you to embed audio files into the document.

Exam Feedback

Evidence from NSS indicates that students value feedback from exams. Much can be gained from exam feedback. Apart from giving a general understanding of how different questions should have been approached, students are provided with informed guidance on how to approach exams, lowering the anxiety levels that often accompanies sitting exams. An additional benefit is the provision of greater transparency in relation to the marking process, contributing to a better understanding of fairness and objectivity for markers. There are also benefits for markers and course programme teams. The process helps (newer) colleagues understand marking standards and it can be a useful part of improving marking consistency. For course teams, an overview of student examination performance may help clarify which parts of the course are well understood by students and which parts possibly need further development.

Feedback from exams is often difficult to organise. Providing feedback on an individual basis is too laborious, especially if, as quite often occurs, it is not picked up. However, it is key to provide feedback to further their understanding, collective feedback can also be given. 

What does the Assessment and Feedback policy say?

Currently, the University staff are not obliged to provide exam feedback and the decision whether or not to do so lies at the discretion of the Faculty:

"With the exception of examination scripts, students are entitled to feedback on all summative and submitted formative work. Feedback can also be provided on examination scripts at the discretion of the Faculty."

However, it is important to acknowledge the usefulness of exam feedback and provide it wherever possible.

Exam feedback and feed-forward

Feedback from exams can and should have feeding forward qualities. Feedback provided via VLE can be used to structure revision sessions for the next cohort of students, a practice quite often undertaken in our History Department, that the students value greatly. Also, if feedback is returned at the beginning of the following academic year, students can use it to learn from the mistakes they made in the previous year to improve their performance in the current one. This also helps to emphasize the link between courses or modules at different stages.

Whole Class Feedback

Whole class feedback is a useful and relatively fast way of providing information in relation to overall performance in a task or exam.  It highlights areas that proved to be difficult for students but also shows areas that were particularly successful. It helps students understand and compare their performance against the marking criteria, but also provides important information to the lecturers outlining assessment criteria where students are under-performing. This can lead to better support in the future to try to eliminate common mistakes.

To make the most of group feedback it is best if general comments are looked at and read alongside student's own work. Such set up allows for better comparisons.

Whole class feedback can be provided electronically or can be delivered during a feedback session (or dedicated part of a regular session to feedback). Electronic delivery can be:

  • An email sent to the entire group of students
  • A report document uploaded to Moodle page
  • An audio or video message available on Moodle

Written group feedback can take the form of a report. Some examples and strategies as to how to compose a group feedback report were discussed in the Exam feedback section of the hub.

The benefits of providing whole class feedback online include the opportunity for the students to re-read the comments and go through the feedback at home, at their own pace.

Whole class feedback can also be provided face-to-face either during a feedback session organised with that purpose in mind, or during part of a session dedicated to feedback. Copies of student work should be made available to students to allow for comparisons. The face-to-face discussion allows for deeper engagement with feedback and further clarification of any misunderstandings.

Quite often, especially in situations when oral feedback is given, it is not recognised by students as feedback. It therefore results in frustration on the part of the lecturer who provides a lot of feedback, and on the part of the students who quite often think the opposite. It is very important therefore to make students aware that a whole class activity of discussing their essays or exam papers is in fact a feedback opportunity. Educating students about different ways that feedback can be given will lower the frustration on both parts.

Ipsative Feedback

Ipsative feedback moves away from assessing student competitively, i.e. how well they performed as compared to their peers. The traditional way of marking does not help all of the students achieve their potential. This is especially true of lower performing students for whom negative, critical feedback is a cause for demotivation. Ipsative feedback compares the student's performance against their own past performance, i.e looks at a students personal best. Marking against past performance allows every student to see their progress.


Formative feedback or "feed forward" provides essential information on how to improve work leading to a summative assessment and how to develop the necessary skills to successfully complete upcoming assessments. It offers guidance ahead of the assessment on how to do better. It is the combination of feedback (comments on current assignment) and feed-forward that helps students to improve.