Enhancing Feedback Enhancing Feedback

Involving students in feedback



Peer feedback
Self-generated feedback
Co-revising assignments
Editing and redrafting


The last two decades have brought a seismic shift in the provision of feedback. Traditionally, feedback was seen as a 'gift' (Askew and Lodge, 2000) — something presented by the teacher to the student, with students cast in the role of relatively passive recipients or even bystanders. But there is now widespread recognition that students must play a more direct and active part in feedback, if it is to make a real difference to the quality of their learning.


For the Quality Assurance Agency (2006), encouraging students to reflect on their own performance as well as get feedback from others is seen as worthwhile, and especially so "when opportunities for self-assessment are integrated in a module or programme" (QAA, 2006). Skills in giving and receiving feedback are also prized by employers (see e.g. Jaques, 2000) and seen as an indispensable 'graduate attribute', helping to prepare students for learning in everyday life and work beyond university (Boud and Falchikov, 2006) . And in contemporary research and scholarship on assessment, student engagement in the interchange of feedback goes hand in glove with excellence in learning (see for example, Nicol, 2007, 2009; Black et al. 2003). As Royce Sadler, one of the most influential thinkers in this field, put it two decades ago, students have to be able to judge the quality of what they are producing, by coming to hold "a concept of quality roughly similar to that held by the teacher" (Sadler, 1989, p. 121).


This section of the website explores various pathways to greater student involvement, the two most direct of which are peer feedback, where students give feedback to (and get it from) their fellow-students, and self-generated feedback. Two other options, where the feedback itself may be less visibly interwoven, entail students working collaboratively, by co-revising assignments and through editing and redrafting.


For further possibilities for enhancing students' engagement with feedback, see the section Interacting with students.



Askew, S. and Lodge, C. (2000) Gifts, ping-pong and loops - linking feedback and learning. In: Askew, S. (ed.) Feedback for Learning. London: RoutledgeFalmer, pp.1-18


Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B. & Wiliam, D (2003) Assessment for Learning: putting it into practice. Buckingham: Open University Press


Boud, D. and Falchikov, N. (2006) Aligning assessment with long-term learning. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 31 (4) pp. 399-413
This paper proposes that students need to become assessors for more involvement and participation which would be faced in later life and work after graduation. It discusses the kinds of practices that are needed to refocus assessment to this long-term learning purpose.


Boud, D., Cohen, R. and Sampson, J. (1999). Peer learning and assessment, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 24, 4, 413-426. Examines some of the main assessment issues in connection with peer learning (including group assessment, peer feedback and self-assessment) and suggests ways in which the benefits of this approach can be maintained.


Falchikov, N. (2005) Improving assessment through student involvement: practical solutions for aiding learning in higher and further education London/ New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
Peer and self-assessment are powerful assessment tools to add to the existing tutor-based methods of assessment and feedback, and this book provides a guide to the methods and issues involved.


Jaques, D. (2000) Learning in Groups: A Handbook for Improving Group Working. London: RoutledgeFalmer.


Liu, N. and Carless, D. (2006) Peer feedback: the learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), pp.279-290.
Reports a large-scale survey of staff and students in Hong Kong showing lack of take-up of and resistance to peer assessment using grades, and argues the case for a peer feedback process as an end in itself or as a precursor to peer assessment involving the awarding of marks. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/13562517.asp


Nicol, D. (2009) Transforming Assessment and Feedback: enhancing integration and empowerment in the first year. Mansfield: QAA.
A substantial report produced as part of the Scottish Enhancement Theme on The First Year.


Nicol, D. (2007) Principles of good assessment and feedback: theory and practice. Paper from the REAP International Online Conference on Assessment Design for Learner Responsibility, 29-31 May 2007.


Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2006) Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education: Assessment of Students. Mansfield: QAA.


Sadler, D.R. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems, Instructional Science,18 (2), 119-144.
Feedback is defined in a particular way to highlight its function in formative assessment. This paper argues that the key premise for effective feedback for student to improve is that they must develop the capacity to monitor the quality of their own work during actual production. And such skills can be developed by providing direct authentic evaluative experience for students by the instructional systems which make explicit provision for such acquisition.



Schon, D. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Peer feedback


There is abundant evidence of the benefits of providing students with opportunities to give feedback to, and receive it from, their fellow-students students (see e.g. Falchikov, 2001; Miller, 2008; Orsmond, 1996, 2000; Liu and Carless, 2006). Peer feedback can help students to develop that all-important appreciation of what counts as high-quality work in the discipline or subject area (Sadler, 1989), while at the same time enabling them 'to take an active role in the management of their own learning’ (Liu and Carless, 2006). Peer feedback can be sometimes be quicker and more accessible than tutor-provided feedback, and does not usually give rise to the anxiety or even antipathy – on the part of students as well as staff – that is often associated with the kinds of peer assessment that result in the award of a mark or grade (Liu and Carless, 2006).


Peer feedback can take many different forms (Hounsell, 2008):


• students can give one another feedback on drafts or assignment plans, e.g. by making evaluative comments and offering suggestions for improvement;
• students can give comments on a piece of written work or presentation that are designed to sit alongside, or round out, written feedback from tutors;
• students can discuss with one another what a tutor's written feedback on their assignments might mean, why it might be important, and how it might be acted upon;
• students can be invited to discuss and propose the criteria by which an unfamiliar assignment (a poster presentation, say, or a blog or web-derived bibliography) would be assessed by the tutor.


It is likely to work best when responsibilities are equitably shared (e.g. each student gets and gives feedback), when the feedback can be put to good and immediate use on a real task, and where students are familiar with ground-rules that foster constructive and courteous feedback. David Boud's example of such ground-rules has been widely emulated and recently updated (Assessment Futures, 2009).

Opportunities for peer feedback can also be combined with the use of exemplars or on-display learning and with various strategies for interacting with students about feedback.




ASKe(2007). Making peer feedback work in three easy steps! Oxford: Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange, Oxford Brookes University.
A short leaflet giving guidance on peer feedback for all subjects. http://www.brookes.ac.uk/aske/documents/PeerFback.pdf


Assessment Futures (2009). Guidelines for giving and receiving feedback. Sydney: University of Technology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
These guidelines assist students in making helpful comments that contribute to their peers’ work.


Barwell, G. and Walker, R. (2009) Peer assessment of oral presentations using clickers: the student experience. Proceedings of the 3rd HERDSA Annual Conference.
This paper reports on the findings of focus groups which asked for students' views on using clickers to give peer feedback on presentations.


Bloxham, S. and West, A. (2004). Understanding the rules of the game: marking peer assessment as a medium for developing students' conceptions of assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 29(6), pp.721-733.
This paper reports on an exercise where Sports Studies students used assessment criteria to mark their peers' work coupled with an assessment of their peer marking and feedback comments.


Brownrigg, A. Positive interactions: developing students' learning through group poster work. Signpost Leaflet 15. Northumbria University: CETL in Assessment for Learning.
A short case study where Health Studies students gave each other feedback on posters.


Brunsden, V. (2007) Patchwork texts as a form of assessment. Higher Education Academy Psychology Network Newsletter, 44. pp. 4-5.
Psychology students gave feedback to each other on a variety of formative assessment writing tasks.


Cartney, P. (2008) Using peer formative assessment with social work students.
Smith, S. (2007) 'Other students are saying ...': harnessing peer feedback for a formative assessment task
Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Social Policy and Social Work (SWAP) Case Studies
Two case studies describing initiatives in which Social Work students gave each other feedback on their assignments before they were submitted for summative assessment.


Falchikov, N. (2002) Unpacking' peer assessment. In Schwartz, P. and Webb, G. Assessment (Case Studies of Teaching in Higher Education Series): Case Studies, Experience and Practice from Higher Education.pp. 70-77 London: Kogan Page Stylus Publishing.
This case study looks at problems encountered during implementation of peer assessment and the attempts made to solve them in Bioscience and Psychology.


Gukas, I., Miles, S., Heylings, D. and Leinster, S. (2008) Medical students' perceptions of peer feedback on an anatomy student-selected study module. Medical Teacher 30(8), 812-814
Medical students' perceptions of peer feedback on their presentations.


Hanrahan, S. and Isaacs, G. (2001) Assessing self- and peer-assessment: the students' views. Higher Education Research & Development 20(1), 53-68
Students studying Health Psychology were asked to self-assess and peer-assess their assignments, and then to complete a short questionnaire on the experience. Their responses were generally positive but some concerns were expressed.


Hughes, C., Toohey, S. and Velan, G. (2008) eMed-Teamwork: a self-moderating system to gather peer feedback for developing and assessing teamwork skills. Medical Teacher 30(1), 5-9
Medical students gave feedback to each other on team skills, using a computer-based system which also allowed for students commenting on the feedback they received and tutors giving feedback.


Hughes, I. (2006) Peer assessment: what's it all about? Open University: Challenging Perspectives on Assessment.
A short video, with examples of using peer feedback with Biology and Medical students, and discussion of the pros and cons.


Ljungman, A. and Silén, C. (2008) Examination involving students as peer examiners. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 33(3), 289-300
Students in the later years of a Medical Biology course acted as examiners alongside academic staff for presentations by students in earlier years. The peer examiners received feedback on their own understanding by being involved in discussions with academic staff.


Miller, V. (2008) The incorporation of peer assisted study sessions (PASS) into the core curriculum of a first year Chemistry module. In Irons, A. Enhancing Learning through Formative Assessment and Feedback. London: Routledge.
This case study illustrates the benefits of peer assessment in formative assessment and feedback through PASS in large first year Chemistry cohorts.


Morrow, L. (2006) An application of peer feedback to undergraduates' writing of critical literature reviews. Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 1(2), 61-72.
This paper reports on an initiative to introduce peer feedback to what was a new type of assignment for honours Psychology students. It discusses the students' evaluation of the experience of reading and commenting on other students' work.


Orsmond, P. (2004) Self- and peer-assessment: guidance on practice in the Biosciences. The Higher Education Academy: Leeds.
This guide with seven Bioscience case studies discusses some key concerns about assessment in higher education then in detail how you can get started with self- and peer-assessment and also with some reflection on how students are being prepared. http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/guides/selfpeerassess.aspx


Orsmond, P., Merry, S. & Reiling, K. (1996) The importance of marking criteria in the use of peer assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 21(3), 239-251. The article compares student peer and tutor marking of five individual criteria in Bioscience.



Peel, D. (2009) Self- and peer-assessment for Built Environment students. CEBE Briefing Guide No.14. Higher Education Academy Centre for Education in the Built Environment.
An introduction to the potential benefits of using self- and peer-assessment with Built Environment students.


Price, M., O’Donovan, B. and Rust, C. (2007). Putting a social-constructivist assessment process model into practice: building the feedback loop into the assessment process through peer review. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 44(2), pp. 143-152.
Peer review and feedback were used prior to final submission of a Business module in order to actively engage the students with feedback on their work and the feedback process.


Reed, R. and McKie-Bell, F. (2008) Peer-assessment and feedback in a first year Bioscience module. In Irons, A. Enhancing Learning through Formative Assessment and Feedback. London: Routledge.
This Biosciences case study brings together a range of methods in peer assessment and formative peer feedback and emphasizes the benefits and difficulties of student engagement in these activities.


Topping, K., Smith, E., Swanson, I. & Elliot, A. (2000) Formative peer assessment of academic writing between postgraduate students. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 25(2), 149-170. This article examines formative peer assessment of academic writing and analyses the type and amount of feedback given by peers and teachers in Psychology.



van den Berg, I., Admiraal, w. and Pilot, A. (2006). Designing student peer assessment in higher education: analysis of written and oral peer feedback. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(2), pp.135-147.
This paper discusses the practice of using peer feedback on draft writing in five different courses in History. Both written and oral feedback from peers were gathered and analyzed.




Chin, P. (2007) Peer Assessment. New Directions in the Teaching of Physical Sciences 3, 13-18.
A short guide to the benefits and issues faced in introducing peer assessment, particularly in the sciences.


Hounsell, D. (2008) The Trouble with Feedback: new challenges, emerging strategies. TLA Interchange Issue 2.



Liu, N. and Carless, D. (2006) Peer feedback: the learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), pp.279-290.
This paper focuses on peer feedback in relation to assessment processes. It examines the rationale for peer feedback, emphasizing its potential for enhanced student learning.

Self-generated feedback


"Self-generated" feedback ... doesn't that sound like a contradiction in terms? Surely one of feedback's raison d'etre is that it's a view from another standpoint - and ideally a more expert and less disinterested one?


Well yes, but however much we might prize the outsider view, we can't rely solely on others' judgements if we're to become more skilled and knowledgeable in a given field. We also need a growth-spurt in our own capacity to judge and evaluate, to identify (in any piece of work-in-progress ) what's of appropriate quality and what needs further attention. And we can wait while this capacity evolves, in its own time, or we can try and speed up the process by consciously nurturing it.


Self-generated feedback can help to kindle this kind of 'informed judgment' (Boud and Falchikov, 2006). Typically it takes one of two forms:


(i) gaining practice in taking assessed tasks, where students can use the experience to get diagnostic information on how well they're doing overall, and what their specific strengths and weaknesses are. Examples would be:


• self-testing on multiple-choice or other tests, which can be linked to online feedback on performance, as in online revision and electronic feedback

• using past exam papers, e.g. as a test of the success of revision or as practice in writing answers under timed exam conditions

• take-away problem sheets, e.g. in engineering, where there is an opportunity for self-review prior to, say, later tutorial discussion


(ii) actively developing a grasp of criteria and standards, not just through becoming familiar with assignment criteria and standards as outlined in course handbooks and websites, but by gaining experience in applying them to an appropriately demanding task or instance of assessed work. Examples would be:


• self-appraisal by a student of a pre-submission draft of an assignment, evaluating achievement against each of the set criteria
• systematically reviewing one or more past exemplars of work in the subject at a given level, e.g. by assigning a notional grade, completing a marking proforma, determining where and how the work might be improved


In either case, self-generated feedback is likely to be of most value when there is an authoritative reference-point or benchmark against which students can check out and calibrate their evolving powers of judgment. This could be achieved via, for instance, a model answer, a 'crib-sheet' of answers to sample exam or test questions, or in some automated online form. It could also come in the form of peer feedback (e.g. where having worked individually, a group of students came together to pool their efforts) or as the next stage in a more formal assessment process. Three examples of the latter would be elective feedback; richer benchmarking information from the tutor (as in the Mulder example); or students being invited to record their own evaluation of their achievement alongside an assignment submission (as in the Day and Anderson examples).




Anderson, R.D. (1996) Structured Feedback with Limited Self-Assessment . In: Hounsell, D., McCulloch, M. and Scott, M. (eds) The ASSHE Inventory: Changing Assessment Practices in Scottish Higher Education. Sheffield: UCoSDA. p.90
In a European History course at the University of Edinburgh, the essay assessment form served as a foundation for self-assessment. In the second term of the course, the students were asked to evaluate their achievement in relation to four ideal attributes of an essay set out in the pro forma.
Download article.


Brown, N. (2007) Self-assessment - more effective than tutor feedback? Centre for Bioscience Bulletin No. 22, p.8.
In this case study, Bioscience students and tutors developed criteria, and then the students used them to judge their own work and comment on these judgements.


Day, A. (1996) Student Self-Assessment as an Aid to Marking Assignments. In: Hounsell, D., McCulloch, M. and Scott, M. (eds) The ASSHE Inventory: Changing Assessment Practices in Scottish Higher Education. Sheffield: UCoSDA. p.88
In at American History course at the University of Edinburgh, students were encouraged to develop their capacity to appraise the quality of their written work by submitting, alongside a completed essay, informal evaluative comments on its chief strengths and weaknesses.
Download article.


Johnstone, R., Patterson, J., and Rubenstein, K. (1998) Improving Criteria and Feedback in Student Assessment in Law. Sydney/London: Cavendish Publishing, p.80, Example 1.
In this example, a first year students in History and Philosophy of Law were asked to complete a self-reflection checklist and feedback sheet before submitting their work. This self-reflection checklist and feedback helped students to understand assessment criteria and provided them a chance to revise.


Mok, M.M.C., Lung, C.L., Cheng, D.P., Cheung, R.H.P. and Ng, M.L.(2006) Self-assessment in higher education: experience in using a metacognitive approach in five case studies. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 31(4),pp.415-433.
The study describes the use of a metacognitive approach for self-assessment of teacher Education students. Students self-assessed at the beginning, middle and end of learning by asking themselves three questions in what they know, what they want to know and what they have learnt about the topic.



Mulder, R. (2007) Use of a scoring matrix to provide detailed feedback on performance. From the website: Enhancing Assessment in the Biological Sciences, www.bioassess.edu.au
A description of how a scoring matrix enabled students in Zoology to compare their performance on assessment criteria with that of other students.


Norton, L., Clifford, R., Hopkins, L. Toner, I. and Norton, WB. (2002) Helping psychology students write better essays. Psychology Learning and Teaching 2(2) 116-126.
In this case study, Psychology students were given the tutors' checklist of criteria for their assignments and asked to rate their own essays. This formed the basis for feedback to the students from the tutors.


Orsmond, P. (2004) Self- and Peer-Assessment: Guidance on Practice in the Biosciences. The Higher Education Academy: Leeds.
This guide with seven Bioscience case studies discusses some key concerns about assessment in higher education then in detail how you can get started with self- and peer-assessment and also with some reflection on how students are being prepared. http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/guides/selfpeerassess.aspx


Pain, R. & Mowl, G. (1996) Improving geography essay writing using innovative assessment. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 20(1), 19-31.
Self and peer assessment is used to improve students' essay writing skills in Geography. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/03098265.html


Taras, M. (2001) The use of tutor feedback and student self-assessment in summative assessment tasks: towards transparency for students and for tutors. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 26(6), 605-614.
This article, written from a base in Linguistics, suggests using tutor corrected, summative, graded work for self assessment, but to withhold the grade until after the self assessment. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/02602938.html


Taras, M. (2003) To feedback or not to feedback in student self-assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(5), 549-565.
The study explores the role of tutor feedback in student self assessment in Language studies. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/02602938.html


Thompson, D. and Howard, M. (2009) Re:View online criteria-based assessment. Sydney: University of Technology Sydney.
When staff make assessment criteria explicit online it enables students to ‘self-assess’ their own work against those criteria and gain feedback.

Co-revising assignments


In many approaches to peer feedback, the key shift from convention is that the students take on the mantle of the tutor, providing comments on work which (whether in draft or final form) has typically been compiled and written elsewhere, in private and independent study. It is therefore the product of that individual work which is the focus of feedback, which is generated largely after-the-fact and separated from the act of production.


By switching the focus of peer activity to co-revising, however, feedback can be interwoven into the very activities that the students undertake — collaboratively evaluating a draft, deciding where and how it needs to be revamped, drafting the needed revisions, and checking that the revision has been a success. Feedback has therefore become contemporaneous rather than delayed, and so intrinsic rather than extrinsic, an almost seamless feature of the task on which the students are collaborating. There is also the potential, as with any collaborative assignment by students, for rich learning about one another's ways of working in the discipline or subject area, i.e. about strategies for production, as well as what makes for a good end-product. In other words, co-revising can be seen as both an alternative to peer feedback in its more typical guise, and as offering even greater potential for students to develop as disciplinary practitioners-in-the-making.


In practical terms, what could students co-revise? It could be an anonymous piece of work chosen by the tutor, or something the students have already drafted together (as in the Nicol case example). In either case, even a short piece of text could work well. A concise text also lends itself to other refinements. One is a design studio or 'atelier' approach (c.f. Schon, 1987), where the tutor moves around the groups while they are actively co-revising, offering his or her expert comments as a form of supplementary feedback. The other is that having worked in small groups on their co-revisions, groups then compare what they have produced with one another. And as the Baxter case-example also shows, co-revising is feasible online as well as face-to-face.




Baxter, J (2007). A Case Study of Online Collaborative Work in a Large First Year Psychology Class. From the REAP International Online Conference on Assessment Design for Learner Responsibility, 29th-31st May, 2007.
This case study discusses a redesign of a large first year Psychology course where students make individual contributions but also engage in constructing a group response.



Kim, M. (2009). The impact of an elaborated assessee’s role in peer assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(1): 105-114.
This paper discusses the effects of assessees' roles in an Educational training course that involved student editing and redrafting assignments based on feedback from their peers. Although it focuses on students’ reflection on their peers’ feedback, the finding of this study suggested instructional implications for those who want to employ peer assessment as a learning method by showing the effectiveness of a well-developed task and role design.

Editing and redrafting


The key difference between co-revising and editing and redrafting is that in the latter case, the students work individually on the assigned draft rather than in a peer group. It may therefore be easier than co-revising to implement where contact time or space for groupwork is limited. And although the feedback that arises from editing-and-redrafting is therefore self-generated rather than benefiting from peer interaction, the resulting redrafts could nonetheless become the focus for subsequent peer discussion (and thus peer feedback) in, say, a tutorial or practical class.


It would also be feasible to divide the activity into two stages (each involving individual work followed by peer feedback in groups) by focusing first on what needed revising, and then on the revisions actually attempted.




Covic, T., and Jones, M. K. (2008) Is the essay resubmission option a formative or a summative assessment and does it matter as long as the grades improve? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 33.1, pp. 75-85.
26 out of 54 third-year Psychology students were provided detailed formative feedback on their essay and an opportunity to resubmit their essay.


Handley, K. Szwelnik, A., Ujma, D., Lawrence, L., Millar, J. & Price, M. (2007). When less is more: students’ experiences of assessment feedback. Paper presented at the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, July 2007.
This paper describes two case studies in Business Studies, where students are given the opportunity to receive feedback on drafts of assignments and to resubmit and assignment.


Harvey, J. How am I doing? Using peer reviews to improve assessment. Signpost Leaflet 10 . Northumbria University: CETL in Assessment for Learning.
A short example of Business Studies students giving each other feedback on drafts of essays.


Montgomery, C. Practice makes perfect: working towards a summative essay through drafts and edits. Signpost Leaflet 8. Northumbria University: CETL in Assessment for Learning.
A short example of giving English Language students feedback on drafts of essays.


Prowse, S., Duncan, N., Hughes, J., and Burke, D. (2007) ‘…do that and I’ll raise your grade’. Innovative module design and recursive feedback. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(4), 437-445.
This paper discusses an innovative feedback process which involved recursive feedback, pre-submission guidance and the use of feedback as a dialogue between students and teachers. It was implemented in an Education module, and the aim was to encourage students’ effective use of tutors’ feedback on their work.


Taylor, C. (2007) Feed-forward to improve academic writing. Centre for Bioscience Bulletin No. 22, p.8.
In this case study, Bioscience students can submit a draft report and receive face-to-face feedback which they can use before submitting a final report.


Unsworth, K. and Kauter, K. (2008) Evaluating an earlybird scheme: encouraging early assignment writing and revising. Higher Education Research and Development 27(1), pp.69-76.
This paper disusses a voluntary 'earlybird' scheme that provided detailed feedback to undergraduate Business students on a first draft of their assignment.