What do we mean by feedback?

It is that time of year when the storm that has been brewing for some time is coming to its peak: students are starting the new academic year and Universities all around the country are preparing to receive them. So, I was not surprised when I received an email reminding us about pastoral care and the newly introduced “student experience” directives. Note: apparently the “academic excellence committee” is out on “student experience” is in.

With that in mind, the National Student Survey (NSS) is a very important piece of the puzzle. The NSS is aimed at students who are about to graduate, “to give your opinions on what you liked about your time at your institution as well as things that you felt could have been improved”, and feedback is among those things evaluated.

Classical ideal feedback model. The feedback i...

According to the email I received “there is some evidence that the term ‘feedback’ means different things to students and to staff”, although there is no  mention as to where the evidence can be found.  I really liked the fact that it is suggested that a better score can be achieved if we explicitly tell the students whenever they are being given feedback.

What is Feedback?

Well, in order to make it clear for the students it is suggested that  we use the word “feedback” whenever commenting on work either verbally or in writing. I think this is a good idea, but I find it a bit too much when we are reminded that this should be done by marking with a red pen and put the word  “feedback” in a prominent position. In that form “there can be no doubt in the student’s mind that the marked work constitutes feedback”.


I would be curious to hear your thoughts about this: What do you mean by feedback?