The full circle: enhancing feedback to students

At Loughborough University, the School of Civil and Building Engineering commissioned the Centre for Engineering and Design Education to undertake a longitudinal study, over four years, to explore issues associated with feedback on assignments from both the staff and student perspective. This study was prompted by low feedback scores on the National Student Survey* and initially explored the sources of students’ dissatisfaction with feedback and their perceptions of what constitutes feedback. In later years the study was broadened to explore how students use their feedback and the impediments to this. The findings of the study have influenced the feedback strategy and practice within the School with clear guidance given to staff, training provided to students and the introduction of enhanced feedback quality monitoring processes. This paper reports on the fourth year of the study, which goes full circle back to students’ perception of effective feedback. The fourth year of the study seeks to explore, from the student perspective, whether the changes made have addressed the original issues raised by the students, whether they are satisfied with the quality of the feedback they now get and whether their expectations regarding feedback have changed. The study uses a combination of focus group discussions, and questionnaires to gather data from second and third year students who have been impacted most by the feedback changes made within the School. This paper shares key findings from the study, including the impact that the practice changes have had on the general students’ understanding of feedback and the changes in level of expectation of feedback, particularly with respect to the most engaged students.