Skip to Main Content

Assessment and feedback

Study Advice guide on how to approach, interpret, and use feedback on your assessments, as well as how to be constructive in your feedback to others.


Key steps for reflective use of feedback:

  1. Recognise and embrace your emotional reaction. Ride it out. When ready, check your feedback.  
  2. Read carefully all the comments. Make a note of anything you do not understand. 
  3. Discuss your feedback: with the marker, with your tutor, with your colleagues, with a Study Adviser... 
  4. Identify ways your work could have been improved. 
  5. Make a judgement: what is important for your further development? Can any of these lessons be taken forward and applied to other work? 
  6. Look out for recurring themes and patterns in your feedback from many different sources.  
  7. Make a list of priorities: which skills, competencies or attributes do you wish to work on and why? 
  8. Take action: identify activities that will help you achieve these priorities, make a plan and try it out! 
  9. Revisit your learning plan regularly, informed by new feedback and reflections along the way! 


diagram showing the reflective use of feedback steps as a cycle

Direct application of feedback

In some cases, feedback can be applied directly to a following task or assignment; for example, when a formative task leads to a summative one. In other words, there may be a straightforward link between the feedforward advice and changes in practice one can make to improve their final output. 

Opportunities for directly applicable feedback may come: 

  • in formative assignments (click on the tabs above for some examples of directly applicable feedback from task to task) 
  • from your dissertation supervisor on sample of draft work 
  • from peers or teammates on draft before submission 
  • you can also share a sample of work with Study Advice to receive feedback on attributes such as structure, writing style, communication clarity etc. (but not subject specific content) 

Grasp the formative and informal opportunities to get others’ perspectives and learn how to evaluate your work. This strategy will also help you improve your evaluation skills. 

► Check the menu tabs above for examples of tasks offering direct feedback opportunities. Can you think of any others?

Mock tests or practice tests help you get used to exam room conditions, the type of questions, time pressure, etc. Doing a mock test can be a confidence booster and helps you set your expectations and select your priorities when preparing for the ‘real’ exam! 

These are opportunities to hone your communication and presentation skills in front of a benevolent audience. Gaining experience presenting can help with nerves and boost confidence. In addition, there is opportunity receive instant feedback and gauge your content and performance quality from the audience reactions and questions. (Too long? Too little/ much information?  Too specialised?) You can then make decisions for changes in your delivery.

Proposal tasks are an opportunity to design a project, plan in detail, and receive feedback before implementation. Considering then this feedback may lead you to revise your plans and make different decisions on certain aspects of your project, or it might help you identify options/paths you were not aware of previously.

Bibliography assignments are designed to break down the process of writing into steps and emphasise the role of reading and note taking; considering what type of literature or other forms of sources you have selected as a starting point for an essay, and explaining how you are going to use them, helps with defining purpose of writing. Feedback on such assignments can steer you towards directions you had missed or improve your skills on selecting, interpreting, and evaluating evidence for you upcoming essay (and more written assessments to come!)

Transferring feedback (to improve marks)

In order to use feedback successfully across modules and build on it year on year, it is key to identify its transferrable elements, i.e., how comments on a specific piece can be applied to different tasks or areas of work.

Here are some tips for translating feedback

Look at the assessment criteria of different assignments. Is there overlap?  

Group types of assessment together – the likelihood is that key skills matter in similar ways for similar types of tasks. 

Look for patterns in your feedback: are there any repeated keywords? Making a feedback log may be a useful tool in this process of finding out your strengths and areas for development. 

Look at your assessment schedule as a whole. What types of assessment do you have to complete going forward? Is there emphasis on specific types of tasks that you should be building your skills towards? 

Think about your sector or discipline and the career you are hoping to follow. Is there a set of expectations for graduates in your area? What do employers look for? 

The above questions can guide you towards building a learning plan to address any limitations that were identified in your feedback or enhance areas you consider a particular strength and you wish to excel at! 

Reflective practice and planning your learning

Feedback is one of the tools you can use to reflect more broadly on your own learning and development, against the goals you set for yourself within the context of your university studies and beyond. So how can you use feedback to achieve these goals?

Look at your feedback holistically...

... to identify patterns that may help you recognise strengths and weaknesses.  

Some tools you can use: 

  • Think about starting a feedback log: To help you keep track of what feedback you received in each assessment.
  • Or start a skills log: A different option is to think about the range of skills you are developing, and what feedback you got on each of these via different assignments and from different sources. This is a step further from looking at feedback assessment by assessment, better suited to prompt self-evaluation and reflection on development.

Identify sources of support...

Are there any useful suggestions in your feedback that you can implement right away? Or do you need some support to make sense of your feedback and identify an action course? There is plenty of support at hand.

For example, you can use your feedback logs to discuss your learning plan with your Academic Tutor. Together, you can work: 

  • To set out priorities by need and/or importance 
  • To identify relevant learning opportunities within your course and the wider University provision 
  • To set goals / targets / milestones of development plan 
  • To examine whether any tailored support may be needed and how to access it


FInal tip: Evaluate your role in the feedback process. Ask yourself: Am I using formative opportunities? Am I well prepared for participation in class? Do I ask my questions? Do I support peers in giving /receiving feedback? Do I manage my learning / have an ongoing plan? What are my goals? 
(EAT framework on assessment)

Using Turnitin as a feedback tool

If you have access to a draft submission area to check originality of your work via Turnitin, then you can use this report in two ways: 1. as editing and proofreading assistant, and 2. as a tool to assess writing patterns and approach. 

  1. Turnitin as editing assistant.  

What it will show:  

  • Where your text matches with pre-existing published text. In these cases, you will need to check you have used quotation marks and appropriate referencing; otherwise, you may open yourself up to plagiarism allegations.  
  • The overall score will indicate how much of your text matches already published material. On it’s own, this score does not mean much; it may, however, give you cause to look more closely at the way you worked to put this assignment together, and whether your own ‘voice’ is represented enough. 

Things Turnitin cannot do:  

  • Check for plagiarism (it only identifies similarity) 
  • Identify missing citations 
  • Match citations to your references list 
  • Evaluate accuracy of data or citations 

  1. Turnitin as a tool to assess and improve writing approach. 

The report will give you an idea of how you are using sources and evidence in your writing. If you find that long strings of text or sections of your assignments are colour matched to source text, this may mean that you are overrelying on the way other authors express their ideas or communicate information (derivative way of writing). Building good academic practice would then mean finding ways to disengage from source text, e.g. by developing your paraphrasing technique; by reading more widely and synthesising sources; and/or by evaluating the reasons why you use evidence and trying to emphasise  your own argument instead.

A consultation with a Study Adviser to review your Turnitin report can help you evaluate and decide on how to take your writing further.