Empowering students to respond to coursework feedback to increase their learning gain.


Empowering students to respond to coursework feedback to increase their learning gain.

The case study was led by Dr Ken Fox, Principal Lecturer and Director of Learning and Teaching, School of Creative Arts and Industries, Faculty of Arts & Humanities


The programme team for the BA (Hons) in Film, Radio and Television introduced a feedforward model in several modules at levels 5 and 6 in 2018/19. Given the positive feedback from students and tutors involved, the model has now been rolled out for the whole programme in modules where students have two assessment points. The assignment sheet, which all students submit with their Turnitin submission, has a space for second assignments that asks the student to comment on how they used the feedback from the first assignment to improve their second assignment.

Using feedforward effectively

The main aim of the activity is to ensure students examine their tutor feedback and then apply it in their next piece of coursework. It was hoped this would improve students’ grades in their second assignment in that module, give them greater responsibility for their own learning and develop their assessment literacy. This is a crucial component of students’ academic development that is often overlooked.

Concretely, an assignment submission cover sheet is attached to all documents submitted via Turnitin. The form includes a box labelled: “Evidence of Using Feedback from Assignment 1.” When students are submitting their second assignment, they must complete this section to show how they have reflected on the feedback given from their first assessment.

There was a pilot study with a small number of modules including American Independent Cinema Year 2 (28 students) and Cinematic City Year 3 (22 students) to gauge the uptake of this activity by students.


The student response was very positive. The innovation was welcomed by the students and embraced very quickly. 95% of students in both modules used the comment box. The positive impact can also be seen on the students’ results: 80% of students on Cinematic City Year 3 and 77% of American Independent Cinema Year 2 improved their mark in the second assignment. Overall, 35% improved their grade by 5 % points or more.

More generally, the Feedback/Feedforward model is one of several developments the team has made to their assessment and feedback practices. With an overall NSS score in Assessment and Feedback of 87 % Agree/Strongly Agree, twelve points above the sector average, this suggests the students have responded positively to the developments the team has made. “Feedback on my work has been timely” at 90 % and “I have received helpful comments on my work” at 91 % are respectively 12 and 18 points above the sector average. The strong scores in these two areas is testament to the hard work of staff, the staff development sessions on assessment and feedback, engagement with feedforward and the standardisation of feedback through Turnitin. The feedforward model was praised by External Examiners as was the quality of tutor feedback across the programme.

Challenges and lessons learnt

The team encountered a few challenges. One was how to encourage all students to use the comment box. Often it is the students who most need to respond to feedback that avoid taking it on board. One-to-one tutorials and evidence of how previous cohorts used this activity to develop their second assignment and, in most cases, improve their grade, provides a strong motivation for universal take up.

Students’ emotional response to feedback must also be considered. Disappointment or frustration at a mark achieved may limit their desire to read the feedback in full. By engaging in pre-assessment sessions where examples of feedback to previous cohorts are shared in class, students begin to recognise the value of engaging more fully with feedback and how it might feedforward to their future assignments.

The feedforward comment box can be linked to a variety of assignments, it is not restricted to a second assignment. It can also be used to enable summative feedback to be formative in that it can set up students for development in their next year of the degree and in terms of moving in to the world of work or further study.

More work needs to be done on training for students in how to give and receive feedback. (See High Impact Pedagogies Report below).


The Advance HE resources on Feedback have been invaluable in thinking through our overall assessment strategies.

High Impact Pedagogies Report: Professor Carol Evans, Professor Daniel Muijs and Dr Michael Tomlinson University of Southampton (2015)

Bearman, M., Dawson, P., Boud, D., Hall, M., Bennett, S., Molloy, E., & Joughin, G., (2014), Guide to the Assessment Design Decisions Framework,

Price, M., Rust, C., O’Donovan, B., Handley, K., & Bryant, R. (2012). Assessment literacy: The foundation for improving student learning. ASKe, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

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