Feed Forward: 5 steps for students to make the most of feedback

“Got Feedback?” flickr photo by cogdogblog https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/14279306964 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

What is feedback and why is it important?

Feedback on your performance at university comes in many forms – it could be something as simple as your tutor nodding in agreement when you make a point in seminar discussion, responses from your classmates when you give a presentation, or the score from an online quiz.

Most often, we tend to think about ‘feedback’ as the comments markers give on written work and/or the descriptors in marking rubrics or grids. This post will focus on how you can get the most benefit from feedback on your written work.

Whatever form it takes, feedback is most useful when you use it to develop your learning and improve your performance in the future. Usually markers will provide a mixture of feedback and ‘feed forward’.

‘While feedback focuses on current performance…feed forward looks ahead to the next assignment.’


5 Steps to making the most of feedback and feed forward

These steps are adapted from the feedback guidance on the Skills Hub

1. Be sure to look at your feedback.

If you have submitted your work online, you can access your feedback via Study Direct and / or Sussex Direct. If your work was submitted manually, make sure you know where and when you can collect your marked work – your School Office will be able to help you.


You can also find guidance on viewing your feedback in Turnitin and understanding Turnitin similarity on our e-submission and feedback guidance for students webpages.

2. Think about what your mark means.

Most assignments will be marked against assessment criteria, which will be published in advance. A mark in a particular grade band will correspond to a description of the strengths of the work and indicate areas to develop. If your assignment was submitted through Turnitin the assessment criteria might be displayed in a rubric indicating how well your work met each of the criteria. You can see rubric feedback by clicking on the ‘View Rubric’ button.

You can then see the comments that relate to each of the criteria as in this example.

Example of rubric feedback – the highlighted blocks relate to this piece of work.

To get some tips for improving your work, look at the descriptors for the higher grades and think about how you could reach those in future.

3. Read all the comments and make notes

These could be comments in the margins, or on a rubric / grading form. You might have been given audio feedback, so look out for that and listen to it carefully. It is a good idea to make some notes from your feedback, especially noting down the things you did well and aspects that you want to work on for future assignments.

4. Tap into helpful resources and support

If you have any questions about your feedback, arrange to meet with your tutor or Academic Advisor to discuss it. They will be pleased to offer you advice on how you can improve your understanding and written work.

There is also lots of excellent general advice on the Skills Hub to help you with writing and assessment. If you want to focus on your writing, the Royal Literary Fund Writers-in-Residence in the Library offer free one-to-one tutorials. International students or those for whom English is a second or additional language can access English language and study skills support provided by the Sussex Centre for Language Studies (SCLS).

5. Feed forward

Before you start work on your next assignment, look back at the notes you made on your feedback (see 3 above) and any notes from meetings with a tutor or from the other resources mentioned in section 4. Don’t forget those important assessment criteria – they describe the characteristics of good work and are an excellent guide as you start planning your writing.

Where can I get more advice?

Students can find more advice on writing and assessment on the Skills Hub.

Staff marking e-submissions might find this previous post on ‘Constructively aligning criterion feedback using Turnitin’ useful, and can contact tel@sussex.ac.uk to discuss ways to enhance feedback.

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Moving to Canvas: what’s happening behind the scenes

Canvas update
Since the first announcement of our decision to adopt Canvas, there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get the new virtual learning environment (VLE) ready for our staff and students. Some of this work will continue throughout the Spring and Summer, but here’s a brief summary of what we’ve been up to so far: Read more ›

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Posted in Canvas

Discover Campus: using augmented reality to learn about the history of our University

As part of Digital Discovery Week, myself (Pete Sparkes, Learning Technologist) and Bethany Logan (Research Support Supervisor, Library) used technology to create a series of interactive posters using augmented reality (dubbed ‘Discover Campus’) to provide bite-sized, location-based digital learning resources across campus.

The use of this technology enabled us to present a historical narrative, supported by a video montage of photos from archival collections at The Keep, presenting the history of Falmer House (Students’ Union), the Library and the Arts buildings which staff, students and visitors alike could engage with through their smartphones and tablets. Read more ›

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Posted in AR/VR/360

Canvas highlights 1. Quizzes

Canvas Highlights 1. QuizzesWelcome to the first in a series of posts highlighting exciting features staff and students can expect to find in the university’s new virtual learning environment (VLE), Canvas. Each of these posts will showcase a great feature within Canvas that you can use to enhance you and your students’ experience. Canvas will be used for all Sussex modules from the beginning of the 2018/19 academic year.

We’re going to start with something nearly everybody uses, quizzes. In Canvas as you’ll see in the brief intro video below, quizzes are easy to set-up, author and build into your assessment cycle. Read more ›

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Posted in Canvas

Canvas will replace StudyDirect as the Sussex VLE

Canvas by Instructure
From the beginning of the 2018/19 academic year, Sussex will be using Canvas as the institutional Virtual Learning Environment. Canvas will enhance our capability to offer a truly modern, digital learning experience, combining an intuitive, clean workspace with robust, cloud-based operation and is as easy to use on a mobile as on a desktop computer.

TEL are developing an extensive programme of training and support for academic and professional services staff. We’ll be pulling out all the stops to get everyone ready for the new opportunities in teaching and learning that using Canvas will bring. We are also engaging with USSU on a comprehensive communication plan for all students.

To support our move to Canvas, there is now a dedicated section of the TEL website. We’ll also post regular updates on this blog to keep you on the pulse of the latest developments, right up to September and beyond.

Watch out for more news very soon.

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Object Based Learning – Podcast S02 E01

Sussex TEL: Teaching with Tech S02 E01 – Object Based Learning with Maria Kukhareva

In this episode, Tab Betts talks to Dr. Maria Kukhareva, an Educational Developer at the University of Bedfordshire, about how she uses Object Based Learning (OBL) in her teaching. The discussion focuses on how strategic use of physical objects, photos and other realia can be used in any discipline to promote critical thinking, group discussion and reflective learning.

Maria Kukhareva at the University of Bedfordshire
– Email: maria.kukhareva@beds.ac.uk
– Twitter: twitter.com/maria_kukhareva
Overview of Maria’s Object Based Learning Project
More info about Object Based Learning from ALDinHE
Presentation abstract from Playful Learning Conference
Maria Kukhareva’s Ted Talk on resilience

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Nearpod Mid-year update, Sussex staff and student views so far

In September 2017 Technology Enhanced Learning launched a pilot of Nearpod, an interactive presentation tool. The pilot is intended to assess how useful this tool can be for staff and whether Nearpod has a positive effect on students’ learning experiences.

Students using Nearpod

We received a great response to our initial call for staff participants and Sussex staff from across the academic schools signed up to take part in the pilot. Throughout the Autumn term Technology Enhanced Learning carried out a number of training workshops and our pilot participants have begun integrating Nearpod into their teaching. Read more ›

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Posted in Mobile learning, Polling tools

New Year, New Term, New Workshops and Courses from Technology Enhanced Learning

"2018 Calendar with Pen and Laptrop" flickr photo by wuestenigel https://flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/25187952838 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“2018 Calendar with Pen and Laptrop” flickr photo by wuestenigel https://flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/25187952838 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

It’s a new year and Technology Enhanced Learning are launching a new programme of face-to-face workshops and online courses for staff at the University of Sussex. Some of these events are also open to students and will be listed on the Skills Hub.  Read more ›

Posted in Events

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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