2012 Understanding student learning from feedback

Stuart Hepplestone and Gladson Chikwa

The importance of feedback on student learning is universally accepted (e.g. Handley et al. 2011; Hattie and Timperley 2007). However do we know the practices that students use when using feedback effectively for future learning? It will be argued that the way students engage with feedback determines its utility (Handley et al. (ibid.)), a position consistent with Carless et al. (2010, p.396) when they advocate that, ‘the crux of the matter is how students interpret and use feedback’. 

A recent research project undertaken with a small number of undergraduate students at Sheffield Hallam University attempted to address this question. Using Tweets, reflective diaries and interviews, this longitudinal study encouraged the participants to articulate the strategies that students use at a subconscious level to manage their feedback. We were interested in the process that students use to engage with, act upon, store and recall their feedback, and the strategies that they use to feed forward into future learning and the connections they see between each learning activity and the curriculum as a whole. Attention was also drawn to the differences in how students interact with feedback delivered through existing technologies and different media.

This session will outline the background to the project and how the data was collected. Initial findings from the data will be shared on how students use feedback immediately after an assessment task, before their next assessment, between modules and years of study. We will discuss how we are aiming to make explicit the currently implicit processes that students use to deal with feedback. 


Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M. and Lam, J. (2010). Developing sustainable feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36 (4), 395-407. 

Handley, K., Price, M. and Millar, J. (2011). Beyond ‘doing time’: investigating the concept of student engagement with feedback. Oxford Review of Education, 37 (4), 543-560.

Hattie, J. and Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback.Review of Educational Research, 77 (1), 81-112.

C6 – (EN34 and EN03) 14.20