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The consistency, range and types of feedback students experience are more meaningful when seen as a linked series of learning opportunities across an entire programme Jessop, El Hakim, and Gibbs Jessop, T. El Hakim , and G. Providing students with substantial experience in making judgments is not an optional extra but a strategic part of the curriculum Sadler Sadler, D.

Such curriculum designs establish that participation in evaluative judgment is a normal part of teaching and learning, peer interaction is seen as a worthwhile aspect of pedagogy, and students have opportunities to generate and act on feedback. Within this kind of curriculum, students develop feedback literacy through activities embedded coherently across programmes and at progressively higher levels of sophistication. Assessment design is an additional feature which impacts on the prospects for the development of student feedback literacy.

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It is mentioned only briefly here, not due to a lack of importance but because it is secondary to the main focus of the paper. The way teachers design assessment tasks opens up or closes down opportunities for productive feedback processes Carless et al. Multi-stage assignments, team projects or e-portfolios are examples of assessments which naturally involve opportunities for different forms of internal and external feedback. Within assessment designs, teachers facilitate opportunities for student development of feedback literacy through coherent iterative sequences in which students generate, receive and use feedback.

A number of implications for teaching arise. Firstly, there is a need for meta-dialogues between teachers and students about feedback processes. Meta-dialogues discuss processes and strategies of assessment and feedback rather than the specifics of a particular piece of work. They can be profitably focused on the role of feedback in ongoing learning, how effective feedback cycles can be developed, and the challenges of using feedback productively. Secondly, enabling activities need to become core elements of the curriculum in order to realise their potential to support the development of student feedback literacy and promote evaluative judgment.


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Feedback literate students develop their capacities in evaluative judgment as part of reducing their reliance on teachers to inform them about their progress. Through repeated experiences of making self-evaluations, students learn to generate internal feedback and gradually acquire expertise in making more sophisticated academic judgments. Peer feedback needs to be appreciated by learners and include purposeful coaching. Exemplars should be seen not as models but as opportunities for dialogues that clarify the characteristics of quality work and develop student capacities in making judgments.

Thirdly, learning activities in which students discuss feedback together are particularly useful Price, Handley, and Millar Price, M. Students could co-construct meanings from feedback that they have received or alternatively they could be exposed to a databank of feedback comments and invited to make sense of them.

Fourthly, curriculum design and related learning activities enable a core feature of student feedback literacy: the need for action. Rust , and M. Information becomes feedback only when students act on it to improve work or learning strategies.

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These pedagogical implications are broadly consistent with social constructivist learning theories. For example, students could be introduced to the notion of feedback literacy in their first semester and be expected to develop it progressively through staged activities.

Given that student response to feedback is influenced by previous feedback experiences Price, Handley, and Millar Price, M.


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Students need to experience the value of feedback so that its benefits are appreciated. Students require multiple opportunities and practice in interpreting, recording, reviewing and acting on feedback information. A potentially useful means of facilitating such processes involves the extension of LMSs to enable easy access and retrieval for feedback purposes. Students would then be able to keep all the comments they had received in a single repository and review how they are acting on them over time.

Multiple inputs from different sources can then be managed digitally for the purposes of enabling information to be recorded, analysed and used. If LMSs are reconfigured to enable convenient access and retrieval of feedback, a fresh line of research could probe the extent to which these processes facilitate increased uptake of feedback.

With respect to other possibilities for future research into feedback literacy, a variety of approaches could be adopted ranging from surveys to more fine-grained qualitative research into student feedback literacy.

Developing evaluative judgement: enabling students to make decisions about the quality of work

Research investigating student progress in acquiring feedback literacy might usefully be of a longitudinal design and be combined with interventions to promote feedback literacy. The possibilities of learning analytics to inform feedback research and the related implications for student feedback literacy are also likely to be an expanding area of research focus, and might be integrated with research into LMSs.

An important line of further inquiry relates to student action on feedback: researchers need more evidence of how comments lead to short-term and longer-term student uptake. Persistent student and teacher dissatisfaction with feedback processes indicates the need for new ways of thinking, and a qualitative change in the kinds of intervention used. The argument elaborated in this paper is that through the development of feedback literacy, students are better positioned to use information to judge their own work and enhance their learning. Four features of student feedback literacy have been discussed: appreciating feedback processes; developing capacities in making judgments; managing affect; and taking action to use feedback.

These four elements can be used to frame student responses to feedback, and advance feedback research and practice. The development of student feedback literacy is central to the enhancement of feedback processes and broader attempts to improve student learning outcomes. Feedback literacy is not just a tool for doing better in university studies but a core capability for the workplace and lifelong learning. In view of its importance and complexity, the development of student feedback literacy needs greater attention and discussion than it has hitherto received.

Its further investigation could include feedback literacy at postgraduate levels or in the workplace. No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. David Carless is a professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, specialising in feedback research in higher education. His best-known work is Excellence in University Assessment published by Routledge in Skip to Main Content. Search in: This Journal Anywhere.

Advanced search. Submit an article Journal homepage. Pages Published online: 03 May In this article Close Abstract Introduction Feedback processes and the student response Features of student feedback literacy Enabling activities to develop student feedback literacy Implications Conclusion Funding Disclosure statement Notes on contributors References. The development of student feedback literacy: enabling uptake of feedback. Abstract Student feedback literacy denotes the understandings, capacities and dispositions needed to make sense of information and use it to enhance work or learning strategies.

Introduction The most powerful single influence on achievement is feedback but impacts are highly variable, which indicates the complexity of maximising benefits from feedback Hattie Hattie, J. Feedback processes and the student response Students respond to feedback in various ways within specific disciplines, curricula and contextual settings; and in relation to their previous experiences and their own personal characteristics.

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Appreciating feedback processes Appreciating feedback refers to both students recognising the value of feedback and understanding their active role in its processes. Making judgments To make the most of feedback processes, students need to be developing evaluative judgment: capability to make decisions about the quality of work of oneself and others Tai et al. Managing affect Affect refers to feelings, emotions and attitudes.

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Taking action Feedback literacy requires learners to act upon comments that they have received Sutton Sutton, P. Features of student feedback literacy We now propose a set of inter-related features that serve as a framework underpinning student feedback literacy. The development of student feedback literacy: enabling uptake of feedback All authors.

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Display full size. Appreciating feedback Feedback literate students: 1 understand and appreciate the role of feedback in improving work and the active learner role in these processes; 2 recognise that feedback information comes in different forms and from different sources; 3 use technology to access, store and revisit feedback. Making judgments Feedback literate students: 1 develop capacities to make sound academic judgments about their own work and the work of others; 2 participate productively in peer feedback processes; 3 refine self-evaluative capacities over time in order to make more robust judgments.

Managing affect Feedback literate students: 1 maintain emotional equilibrium and avoid defensiveness when receiving critical feedback; 2 are proactive in eliciting suggestions from peers or teachers and continuing dialogue with them as needed; 3 develop habits of striving for continuous improvement on the basis of internal and external feedback.

Taking action Feedback literate students: 1 are aware of the imperative to take action in response to feedback information; 2 draw inferences from a range of feedback experiences for the purpose of continuous improvement; 3 develop a repertoire of strategies for acting on feedback. Composing and receiving peer feedback Peer feedback or peer review involves students evaluating and making judgments about the work of peers Nicol, Thomson, and Breslin Nicol, D.

Analysing exemplars Learning from examples of different genres is part of induction into academic discourses. The teacher role Enabling activities are only likely to be successful in developing student feedback literacy if teachers create suitable curriculum environments for active learner participation, and also provide related guidance, coaching and modelling.

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Implications A number of implications for teaching arise. Conclusion Persistent student and teacher dissatisfaction with feedback processes indicates the need for new ways of thinking, and a qualitative change in the kinds of intervention used. Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. Notes on contributors David Carless is a professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, specialising in feedback research in higher education.

Article Metrics Views. Article metrics information Disclaimer for citing articles. More Share Options. People also read Article. David Nicol et al. Published online: 4 Dec Published online: 25 Aug Imprint Routledge.

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