The F word or, how you can learn to stop worrying and love the process

Wooden hand pointing to the left of the frame. The wooden hand sign occupies most of the frame, the ground is covered in snow.

Yes, we’re of course talking about feedback. So, what is feedback? This excerpt taken from our Effective Feedback page on the Educational Enhancement website, sums it up nicely.

‘Effective feedback involves sense-making. It should help students to make sense of information from various sources and use it to enhance their work or learning strategies. Feedback should, therefore, identify the gap between the desired standards and the student’s achievement – then offer guidance on how to close the gap in future.’ 

Educational Enhancement, Effective feedback

Whether it’s feedback on your teaching, or feedback on the dinner you’ve been working on for hours, its timing and applicability is what makes it useful.

Feedback does demand time and attention, much of this though can be front-loaded, as in the bulk of your time on feedback is done before the busy marking period. Educational Enhancement has a number of things already in place, like upcoming workshops, existing resources or useful technologies,  which means there will be something you can try today. There is no better time to engage with the process of feedback than right now, the second best time is tomorrow. 

Educational Enhancement’s top four feedback fixes.

Use rubrics

If there is one tool, or one technology, that can help save you time when marking – yes, actually save you time, it is the rubric. In its simplest form, a rubric is a grid on which you select the students’ performance on a scale against given criteria. Some schools have a generic school-wide set of criteria, which you can adapt to fit your assessment. These schools will have a central place where you can download the rubrics or in some cases grading forms for Turnitin. For more support with rubrics, speak to your Director of Teaching and Learning or your Learning Technologist and Academic Developer where relevant.

Try this today:

Upskill your students

It is important for your students to understand and be comfortable with the process of both tutor and peer feedback. Tell your students where and when they will get their feedback. Show them how to access feedback, whether in Canvas or Turnitin or other. Whatever it is you do, tell them and show them.

Any formative activities you currently employ can be tweaked so that students provide peer feedback using your marking rubric. This gives students the chance to practise both crafting, receiving and acting on feedback.  By the time they get round to the summative assignments, they have intimate knowledge of your rubrics, how they’ll be used and, based on the formative assessment, what areas they need to focus on. 

Try this today: 

Fast feedback

In the classroom, there are ways for your students to get rapid feedback on= their learning. Anything from a very simple show of hands, through to more complex activities such as Team Based Learning, can give your students that immediate feedback that tells them – ‘I’m not quite where I thought I was’ or ’I was unsure and now I’m feeling good’. One such tool, which is fast to utilise and quick to learn is Poll Everywhere. You can set up everything from a quick pulse check style poll, though to more complex surveys and fun stuff like word clouds. If you haven’t got access to our institutional account, please email Educational Enhancement on

Try this today:

Follow up

Your students are well practised, you’ve provided the feedback, it’s well accessed and students know what they need to do, now what? Do they know where they can get the help needed to take the next steps? For example, student A knows they need to improve their referencing. You’ve made it clear in the scoring of the rubric, they’ve read your comments in the written feedback. In short, they’ve received the communication, they’ve interpreted it and they now need help actioning it. So how do we do that? Signposting will help your students follow up on your carefully crafted feedback. For example, you can might point out to student A they need to improve their referencing. If you also include a link to the Skills Hub you will empower them take the next step. Or, maybe you notice quite a few of your students got into a muddle with referencing, then let your whole cohort know how they can access support.This can of course be scaffolded, in foundation year or year one, we may choose to provide more signposts, but by year two and year three, students can be more independent having developed their academic skills. 

Try this today:

  • Mentioned in this section is Skills Hub
  • You’ll need to signpost your students to a number of places, but always have in mind ‘I’ve told them to do x, but how do they know how to do x and where can they get that info?’

So there you have it, Educational Enhancement’s top four feedback fixes, which are you going to try first? For more support, guidance and a friendly ear to run things by, get in touch with your School’s Learning Technologist or Academic Developer or email Education Enhancement on and we’ll get back to you.

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We are the Educational Enhancement 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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