"It cannot simply be assumed that when students are ‘given feedback' they will know what to do with it" (Sadler, 1998, 78)

"the majority of students entering higher education do not possess strategies to act on written tutor feedback on their work. Thus, unless we provide specific guidance on how to use such feedback students will utilise the inadequate learning strategies concerning the use of tutor feedback that they brought to higher education." (Burke, 2009, 49)

Most students try to use feedback but many lack strategies for using comments effectively. Burke (2009) found that many students had never been taught how to use feedback.

Many of the good feedback practices suggested by Nicol and Macfarlane (2006) focus explicitly on developing students' capacity to use comments as feedback.

The main questions that lecturers/tutors need to ask themselves are:

  • What do I want the student to do in response to these comments?
  • What do I want the student to learn from comments?

The next stage is to create opportunities to share the answers from these questions with students and to develop a dialogue with them. Explaining what needs to happen provides the starting point for discussion, questioning and action towards making it happen.

The Leeds Metropolitan University ALT resource includes a booklet written by Phil Race and designed to help students understand the nature of feedback and to develop strategies to make the best use of it. The booklet can be downloaded from  http://www.leedsmet.ac.uk/Feedback_Booklet_Phil_Race.pdf  .  The resource might be a useful starting pointing for discussions with your students.