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Towards feedback processes of partnerships and shared responsibilities

22 Oct 2019 | Prof David Carless In advance of the QUT and Advance HE Fellowship Forum on 31 October, keynote speaker Professor David Carless provides insight into his latest book and a preview of his keynote at QUT.

A key argument underpinning my upcoming keynote at QUT is that feedback processes need to be seen as a partnership between students and teachers. Effective feedback processes cannot simply be the responsibility of teachers to provide feedback information, students also have important roles to play in generating, making sense of, and using feedback. In a framework for responsibility sharing in feedback processes, Nash and Winstone (2017) propose that a key teacher role is to equip students with strategies for taking productive action on feedback information, whereas students carry responsibilities to engage with feedback, and use it for improvement.

In our recent book Designing Effective Feedback Processes in Higher Education: A Learning-Focused Approach we conceptualise this kind of approach as belonging to a new paradigm of feedback envisaging active student roles in generating and using feedback (Winstone & Carless, 2019).

There are, however, a host of challenges that need to be overcome, including student willingness to take increased responsibilities - ‘students as consumers’, perennial challenges of heavy staff workloads and competing priorities, and the co-ordinated development of teacher and student feedback literacy. A practical way forward lies in principled, research-informed feedback designs allied with a strategic reduction in ineffective feedback practices.

Some possibilities are illustrated in the talk through examples of feedback designs for large classes (eg Broadbent, Panadero and Boud, 2018). These designs include features such as:

  • iterative or interlinked tasks to enable uptake of feedback
  • use of technology to encourage active student involvement in generating and using feedback
  • the strategic use of exemplars to clarify expectations.

When large classes prompt us to think more carefully about designing feedback rather than the old paradigm of one-way transmission of teacher comments, then they may be less of a barrier than at first thought. Feedback processes only work if they involve some partnership between students and teachers, including the mutual development of feedback literacy.

About QUT Academy of Learning and Teaching

The QUT Academy of Learning and Teaching (QALT) has supported and developed the Fellowship community at QUT since our first Fellows were awarded in 2015. QALT has also supported a range of institutions both within Australia and globally to recognise Fellows, develop their own Fellowship community and achieve accreditation as Advance HE members.

Encompassing Fellowship, along with expert peer review, academic integrity and professional development in learning and teaching, QALT supports QUT staff to develop and gain recognition for their skills as educators. This work is underpinned by the Advance HE Professional Standards Framework (PSF) as an established benchmark of teaching quality.

We are proud to have now recognised over 750 Fellows at QUT, making QUT the largest Fellowship community outside of the UK. QALT Director, Professor Abby Cathcart, is also an Advance HE Global Strategic Advisor for the region.

Register now to secure your place on the QUT and Advance HE Fellowship Forum


Professor David Carless is a Principal Fellow and specialist in feedback research and practice in higher education. He is one of the most cited scholars in this field. His current research focuses on teacher and student feedback literacy to enhance the impact of feedback processes. He tweets about feedback research and practice @CarlessDavid


Broadbent, J., E. Panadero, and D. Boud. 2018. “Implementing Summative Assessment with a Formative Flavour: A Case Study in a Large Class.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 43 (2): 307-322. doi:10.1080/02602938.2017.1343455.

Nash, R., and N. Winstone. 2017. “Responsibility-Sharing in the Giving and Receiving of Assessment Feedback.” Frontiers in Psychology 8: 1519. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01519

Winstone, N., and D. Carless. 2019. Designing Effective Feedback Processes in Higher Education: A Learning-Focused Approach. London: Routledge.


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