Student perceptions of feedback: seeking a coherent flow

Carole Murphy, Jo Cornell

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    The importance of feedback to student progression and retention has gained prominence in the literature over the past few years. A number of concerns have been raised about the quality and quantity of student feedback, and the variability across and within institutions. The aim of this study was to examine student perceptions of the utility of timely feedback, and staff intentions for feedback, in relation to a number of factors in the first and final years of a student’s academic experience. A focus group study was carried out at three
    UK higher education institutions. Eighteen first-year (Level 1) and 20 final-year (Level 3) undergraduates and 14 academic staff participated in 14 groups. Digital recordings were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis employed to systematically code for themes across the data. Three main themes were identified:
    • time and timeliness;
    • communication; and
    • student/tutor expectations.
    Findings suggest that there is a mismatch between the expectations of both students and tutors in terms of what can realistically be achieved within the pressures of other commitments. Students require feedback to be timely, specific and preferably delivered through individual tutorials. The creation of a ‘feedback chain’ or overview of their overall progress was also suggested. They need more assistance with learning how to learn in higher education, preferably subject specific approaches.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-51
    JournalPractitioner Research in Higher Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Focus groups
    • Perceptions of feedback


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