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Dr Neil Harris

Senior Lecturer, School of Geography and Planning

Published 08 Sep 2017 • 8 mins read

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Six steps to improving your examination feedback

Follow these six steps to improve your examination feedback - A downloadable one page guide.

Six steps to improving your examination feedback

Follow these six steps to improve your examination feedback.

Examination feedback can take various forms. Identify what is an appropriate form of examination feedback for your module, considering the nature and extent of feedback that students will receive in any other assessments in the same module.

Step one – produce clear assessment criteria or a marking scheme.

It is important for an examination to have clear assessment criteria or a marking scheme as appropriate. The provision of assessment criteria risks being overlooked for examinations when compared to coursework assessments. Set out clearly the criteria that you will use when assessing the examination – and use these in any feedback you produce.

Step two – promote students’ assessment literacy

Examination scripts are not as easily accessible to or shared among students. Many will not have seen examples of examination answers. Use some indicative answers or past students’ answers to previous examination papers to help students understand the qualities of answers with different grades. Self- and peer-assessment tasks focused on a past paper can also be used formatively.

Step three – explain what feedback students can expect

Students are often not clear about what feedback they will get on examinations. Their expectations will vary and so it is important to be clear at the outset of a module what feedback will be provided to students, and how and when they will get it.

Step four – keep feedback constructive and feed forward

Students especially value feedback that is constructive and helps them to improve. Avoid examination feedback that only points out errors or weaknesses in examination answers. Explain what students did well too. Express your feedback in a way that helps students identify how they can improve their performance in other examinations.

Step five – facilitate access to examination scripts

Students produce answers to questions under examination conditions and cannot easily recall how they answered an examination question. Feedback can be of limited value without seeing the work produced in the examination. Student access to an examination script is key to examination feedback being meaningful and valuable.

Step six – create space to discuss the feedback

Students may want an opportunity to discuss their examination feedback. This can be done individually or in class. Students find most value in discussions with the person that marked their examination script. Discussions about examination performance are most valuable where they supplement some other form of written feedback.

This advice is based on a Cardiff University Centre for Education Innovation project on examination feedback. Contact Neil Harris by email at HarrisNR@cardiff.ac.uk

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