Chapter 6 - Feedback

  1. Feedback
    1. Principles
      1. Feedback is an essential part of the student experience, helping to promote learning and assuring academic standards and quality. It is essential that the University adopts assessment and feedback principles that are inclusive of all students irrespective of their backgrounds, experiences or study patterns and which are responsive to the diverse needs of the student population. Feedback can take multiple forms.
      2. The University’s approach to feedback is based on the following principles:
        1. Effective feedback on assessment is a fundamental part of the learning and teaching process and is not separate from it.
        2. Feedback practices should promote effective learning and support the academic development of students.
        3. All students should receive parity of treatment.
        4. All feedback on assessment should be formative, ensuring that students are able to consider and digest comments on their work and are subsequently able to address weaknesses and build on their academic strengths.
        5. All assessment and subsequent feedback should be rigorous, impartial and delivered in a timely manner.
        6. Students must be informed about how and when they will receive feedback.
      3. Module descriptors must contain information indicating how feedback will be provided to students following each piece of formative and summative assessment. Where feedback is not routinely provided on examinations students should have the opportunity to request feedback from their tutor.
      4. Students should have the opportunity to receive feedback on their progress in a module before the final assessment elements of the module take place. This may be done as a collective exercise for a group of students.
      5. Students should be asked a specific question within module evaluation about the appropriateness of the assessment and feedback on the module. The question should highlight the variety of forms that feedback may take.
    2. Draft Assessments
      1. Colleges must discuss and be clear about the rationale for any system they adopt for the provision of feedback and/or marks on draft assessments. Equality of approach within modules must be a particular objective, with special reference to projects and dissertations that can involve the participation of a large number of staff.
      2. In developing such a system the following should be considered:
        1. The potential for inconsistency of practice between modules pitched at the same level and that require similar types of assessment should be addressed.
        2. As a minimum, a consistent approach should be observed by all staff contributing to an individual module, including the amount of feedback that can be expected by students.
        3. Information should be made available to students on how and when they have opportunities to discuss their work with their tutors and to receive appropriate advice.
        4. Programme and/or module handbooks should indicate if feedback on drafts is provided, and what is required of students if they are to benefit.
          1. Clear deadlines must be identified for the submission of drafts attracting feedback.
        5. External Examiners should be made aware of College policy on the extent to which students are supported by feedback on draft assessments.
    3. Three Week Turnaround
      1. The University has adopted a policy that all students should receive feedback on all assessments within three weeks. Assessment schedules should be taken into account to ensure that students will have the opportunity to make improvements in future assessments on the basis of the feedback provided.
      2. Colleges should record the maximum amount of time taken for assessment items to be returned, and this data should be used in annual module review and the Annual Student Experience Review. Additional guidance from the Dean of the Faculty of Taught Programmes on the three week turnaround policy can be found here; 

        2018-19 Guidance on three-week turnaround process
        2018-19 Three-week turnaround deadlines
        2018-19 Three Week Turnaround Additional Guidance for Staff.
    4. Data Protection
      1. The disclosure to students of information about their performance enhances the learning experience, preparing them better for the intellectual challenges ahead both in their programmes of study and their future careers.
      2. The Data Protection Act 1998 imposes a variety of obligations on holders of information including universities. The advice and procedures that follow take account of the Act, for which the general implications for the University are summarised through Exeter's Data Protection web site.
      3. Results may be published by individual notification to students. It is good practice to send results by secure means directly to individual students. While students are informed under the Data Protection Act 1998 at registration that their results could be published, notices should be anonymous.
    5. Disclosure of Marks
      1. Marks for assessment should be made available by Colleges to students, once they have been agreed by the internal markers concerned. Where such marks form part of a final award or classification, disclosure should always be on the basis that they are only indicative, and have no formal standing until confirmed by the College Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee.
      2. For examinations and other summative assessments undertaken towards the end of the academic year, marks must be made available to students once they have been confirmed by the College Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee.
      3. Marks are most appropriately released through the home College. Marks for Flexible Combined Honours students should be released through the Flexible Combined Honours Office or its designated representatives.
      4. Module marks should be disclosed as whole percentages, in line with approved University assessment procedures, except where an alternative scheme has been approved the Dean of the relevant Faculty.
      5. Student handbooks should contain reference to the status of marks released under this procedure. Students should also be informed that results will be available via the student portal and when this will happen.
      6. All individual marks should be communicated directly to the student, either in writing or by access to an individual space on the University student portal, and not by public notice.
    6. Access to Examination and Other Assessment Scripts
      1. Under the Data Protection Act students may make a subject access request to the University Data Protection Officer for copies of their personal data held by the University. This access extends to manual records (both existing and future) including comments entered by examiners on scripts or on cover sheets.
      2. Students have no right of access to assessment scripts but they may make an access request under the Act. This right of access to information will also extend to examiners' report forms for theses and dissertations.
      3. Colleges should review their processes for the marking of scripts, considering the language/tone of markers’ comments and how they are recorded. For instance, to save the copying of whole scripts as a result of a subject access request, it might be decided by a College that all remarks would be better confined to a cover sheet. Colleges will also want to advise their staff not to use defamatory or embarrassing language.
      4. Examination marks are given a temporary exemption from the subject access provisions in the form of an extension, to ensure that students cannot use their subject access rights to discover their marks before they are actually announced. If a subject access request is received, the University is not obliged to respond until the earlier of (a) 40 days after the announcement of the results, or (b) five months from receipt of the request. Therefore, if the University takes longer than five months to process the examination results, it could be forced to make them available under the subject access rules.
      5. Colleges should also be aware that raw marks fall within the terms of the Act. Therefore, for instance, in the case of unseen second marking, both initial marks would have to be reported if they had been retained within College records (held either within a College office or by an individual member of staff).
      6. Colleges, while commended to heed the good practice suggested above, should note that they are under no obligation to retain scripts/remarks purely for the purpose of the Act. Once the usefulness of the scripts and remarks, for instance in the context of examiners' meetings, Academic Audit purposes or feedback to students, is past, they can be destroyed.
    7. Enquiries by Third Parties
      1. Results/marks mustonly be released to the student concerned and not to parents or any other third party unless one of the following conditions applies:
        1. Explicit written consent (which may be by email) has been obtained from the student.
        2. The University is required by law or statutory instrument (as may be in the case of sponsors).
        3. Where required to prevent or detect crime.
        4. Where required to release to a third party who is sub-contracted by the University to process the data in a way that meets Data Protection Act 1998 regulations.
      2. Sponsors could have agreements in place enabling the disclosure of a student’s academic performance. This should be outlined in the Terms and Conditions for the Award Holders. If there is any doubt about disclosures please check with the Data Protection Officer, at dataprotection@exeter.ac.uk.
    8. Academic Appeals
      1. The procedures to be used when students wish to appeal against their academic results are detailed in the University Calendar under the Procedures Relating to Student Academic Appeals.
    9. Transcripts
      1. A complete transcript, including marks for assessed modules at all levels, must be made available without charge to all students after the completion of their programme and approval of award. Further copies will be charged for. Transcripts will be issued by the University’s Examinations Office or by the partner institution as appropriate.
      2. Transcripts showing marks will only be made available to potential employers or other organisations at the student’s written request.

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