Feedback Standards and Guiding Principles

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					                                                        The University of Edinburgh
                                            College of Humanities and Social Science
                                                                        27 May 2010
                                                               HSS UGSC 09/10 5D
                                                                      For discussion

Feedback Standards and Guiding Principles
The Enhancing Feedback task group of the University’s Learning and Teaching
Committee has produced a document entitled Feedback Standards and Guiding Principles.
Senatus endorsed the draft document at its meeting in February 2010. Following
consultation with Schools and Colleges, a revised document will be going to Senatus for
approval on 16 June. This revised document and contextual paper can be accessed via
the Learning and Teaching Committee website at:

As part of the consultation process, members of the College’s Undergraduate Studies
Committee and Postgraduate Studies Committee were invited to a joint discussion
meeting. The note of this meeting is attached, along with an implementation guide that
Schools may find helpful in planning their implementation of the standards and guiding

The Committee is invited to discuss how the feedback standards and guiding principles
can be implemented most effectively and to share examples of current good practice.

Lynn Hyams
May 2010
                     Feedback Standards & Guiding Principles

                                Implementation Guide

This document is intended to support colleagues in Schools and subject areas in
implementing the Feedback Standards and Guiding Principles (which will be presented
to Senatus for formal approval on 16.6.10). It is not intended to be either exhaustive or
prescriptive. Rather, the basic aim is to provide an aide-memoire to assist colleagues in
checking whether their practices are already consistent with the standards and if not,
how this can be efficiently and effectively rectified. A higher-order aim is to encourage
ongoing reflective practice about how to continue enhancing the quality and
effectiveness of feedback.

Before start of next session
Circulation of Feedback Standards and Guiding Principles document to all academic
staff in Schools.

Documentation (e.g. course handbook, course website) for each programme & course:
     • does it inform students how, where & how feedback is offered in each course?
     • are assessment expectations, standards and marking criteria clearly explained?
     • is the timescale for returning work to students clearly specified (this may be
        different for different items of assessment)?
     • does it communicate to students the diverse nature of feedback (re purposes,
        sources & forms), giving examples of how this is instantiated in the particular
     • does it emphasise that feedback is a two-way process and that students are
        expected to make good use of feedback in their learning?

Planning how to integrate discussion of feedback into teaching, e.g.:
     • how can induction sessions and introductory lectures be used most effectively
        to highlight and reinforce the information in the course documentation?
     • how can this be followed up on at key points during the year?
Guidance for markers (e.g. handbooks and training sessions for postgraduate tutors &
     • does this emphasise the importance of feedback that is informative (i.e.
        highlighting strengths & weaknesses, giving specific example or explanations)
        and helpful (i.e. offering suggestions about how to improve)?
During next session & ongoing
Providing opportunities for discussion with students re assessment expectations,
standards and marking criteria, to enable them to understand and interpret feedback
      • how and when to do this? – e.g. in tutorials, prior to assessment deadlines,
         when returning marked work

Course design:
      • reviewing whether design of course maximises the opportunities for efficient &
         effective feedback (for current and new courses) – e.g. Could more use be
         made of mid-semester assessments? Do students receive feedback in time to
         improve their subsequent performance?

Staff development:
      • providing opportunities for sharing of good practice – e.g. discussions at
         School/subject area meetings
      • supporting & encouraging innovation – e.g. contributing to TLA website on

Quality assurance:
      • is there adequate monitoring of provision of feedback (e.g. in course
         questionnaires, staff-student liaison committees)?
      • is appropriate action taken to address any concerns raised (e.g. by course
         organiser, Director of Undergraduate Studies or Head of School)?

Morag Donaldson
Dean of Undergraduate Studies, CHSS
                             The University of Edinburgh
                       College of Humanities and Social Science

Notes of UG/PG Discussion on Feedback Standards and Guiding Principles on 19.4.10

Dr Morag Donaldson, Dr Richard Williams, Dr Andrew Newman, Dr Tony Kinder, Dr
Andrew Marsham, Dr Elaine Kelly, Dr Fiona McKay, Sara Welham, Beth Goodwin-
Andersson, Lynn Hyams

 The standards and principles are deliberately broad and not prescriptive to
   encompass current good practice
 Sara Welham wants final comments from Colleges end May/early June on
   standards and principles
 Academic Affairs will be drafting a brief guide for students directing them to the
   appropriate University website

Major points made in discussion
 Draft checklist to support embedding of standards and principles circulated
 Suggestions made to:
  - Give clear examples of existing good practice
  - Emphasise need for students to be given feedback early
  - Use a brief table in course handbooks describing how many elements of
   feedback an individual student will receive, what type of feedback and when
 Possible templates could be used for handbooks
 QA loop must be closed – how do we do this?
 Need effective monitoring of feedback procedures – needs to be measurable
 Increasing feedback can have resource implications
 Early feedback for one-year masters programmes is essential and current practice
  needs urgent reviewing
 Guidance to staff produced on how to help international students make the
  transition to the UK learning culture and possible creation of skills sessions for
  international students (e.g how to read a paper)
 PGR students need to be explicitly included in the standards and principles
 Dialogue essential with students on what is useful feedback
 Presentation of feedback information within course handbooks: should not include
  too much prose, e.g. the Business School uses tables to present the information

 Standards and principles generally welcomed
 Concerns on most effective way to engage all staff
 How do we get the right balance between being general and too prescriptive?
 How do we deal with Schools’ different resource issues?
 Good practice examples from across CHSS extremely helpful to make issues ‘real’
 Task group need to clarify how the quality loop is closed
 Task group to consider the PGR perspective
 Need for meaningful feedback to students cannot be overstated

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