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 for all assessments (including both coursework assignments and examinations) 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. The approach to feedback undertaken should be appropriate to the nature of the assessment type, the form of marking and feedback, and any practical/logistical considerations, as determined by the Department/Faculty. Also see 6.6. 
        7. As a minimum for all assessments (coursework and examinations), and in cases where access to copies of examination scripts post-marking is not possible (for example, Multiple Choice Tests (MCTs)), Faculties should provide whole cohort-level feedback.  
          1.  This can be either synchronous or asynchronous (see 6.1.3 below) and should be provided alongside confirmed marks.  
          2. This could, for example, as a minimum and where appropriate to the assessment type, be a single feedback sheet provided for the whole cohort.  
        8. For examinations, this feedback should consider the questions on which the student’s performance can be improved, including strategies for improving performance.  
        9. Students must be informed about how and when they will receive feedback.
      3. Appropriate approaches to feedback can include one or more of the following:
        1. Asynchronous whole cohort (or group) feedback (such as a written report or oral recording/podcast) 
        2. Asynchronous individual feedback (such as a written feedback sheet or oral recording/comments)
        3. Synchronous interactive/non-interactive whole cohort (or group) feedback (including an online or in-person interaction such as a Q&A session, drop-in session or group peer-review session) 
        4. Synchronous interactive/non-interactive individual feedback (including a scheduled drop-in session or dedicated use of /Office Hours) 
        5. Where appropriate to the assessment, synchronous and/or asynchronous, and whole cohort (or group) and/or individual feedback, via Personal Tutors, subgroups/group work leads, and appropriate others.
      4. Module descriptors must contain information indicating how feedback will be provided to students following each formative and summative assessment. Where individual feedback is not routinely provided on assessments students should have the opportunity to receive feedback from their Tutor/Module Convenor/Module Lead, or as appropriate.
      5. Students should have the opportunity to receive feedback on their progress in a module (including on formative and/or summative assessments) before the final summative assessment element(s) of the module take place. This may be individual feedback or group feedback.
      6. Students should be asked a specific question within the 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. Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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 a module must be a particular objective, with special reference to modules that involve the participation of a number of staff (e.g. projects, dissertations, and other team-taught modules).
      2. In developing such a system, the following should be considered:
        1. The potential for inconsistency of practice within Departments 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 clear for students on how and when they will receive feedback on draft assessments (where relevant), and this should be specified in Programme/Module handbooks. Deadlines for submission of drafts (where relevant) should be outlined clearly, including any other requirements of the student.
        4. External Examiners should be made aware of Faculty (or delegated School) policy on the extent to which students are supported by feedback on draft assessments.
      3. Feedback may also be given to students via such means as Studiosity:
    3. Timely Feedback Policy
      1. Principle for all assessments:
        1. The University has adopted a policy that all students should receive feedback on all assessments in a timely fashion.
        2. Assessment feedback for coursework (excluding examinations) should be returned to students within 15 working days. Exceptions to this (including for examinations) can be found in the guidance below.
        3. Assessment schedules should be considered to ensure that students will have the opportunity to make improvements in related future assessments on the same or other modules, on the basis of the feedback provided.
        4. After marks and feedback (where applicable) have been returned, new submissions of the same assessment item, should not be accepted unless approved by the Faculty Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education (APVCE).
        5. Where possible, Faculties/Departments should monitor the amount of time taken for assessment items to be returned, and this should be reviewed and acted upon as appropriate at module, programme, Department and Faculty level.

          Additional guidance from the Dean for Taught Students on the overarching principles for the Timely Feedback policy can be found here: Timely Feedback Overarching Principles.

          Please see the guidance below for further information on how this policy applies to our different types of programmes, including any relevant exceptions.

      2. For undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes, which follow the dates published centrally by the University for terms 1 – 3, please refer to the following additional guidance:  
        1. 2023/24 Timely Feedback deadlines‌‌
        2. The University-published term-time dates can be found here:  

      3. For undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes that do not adhere to 6.3.2, please read the guidance document provided in section 6.3.1 (“Timely Feedback Overarching Principles”), which notes relevant exceptions. It is acknowledged that for such Programmes, the term “working days” may need to be defined differently by Faculties and Departments, particularly as we have many different types of programmes, and academic term dates. The term “working days” is therefore used within this policy in the context of programmes adhering to our University term time dates that are published centrally. Programmes that do not adhere to this must, however, provide feedback in adherence to the general rules and principles that feedback should be provided within 15 working days.‌
    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 website.
      3. 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 assessments should be made available by Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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 Faculty Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee.
      2. For examinations and other summative assessments undertaken near an Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC) during the summer, provisional/pre-APAC-approved marks  are not returned to students. Instead, marks must be held until they have been confirmed by the Faculty APAC. Following this, they will be released to students. For PGT programmes that do not hold their APAC until November, exams and summative results will be released to students as provisional, pending confirmation at the winter APAC. For further information, including guidance about marks release for January examinations and referral and deferral examinations, please refer to the Timely Feedback Guidance above.
      3. Marks are most appropriately released through the home Faculty (or delegated School). Marks for Flexible Combined Honours students can be released through a designated representative, if applicable.
      4. Module marks should be disclosed as whole percentages, in line with approved University assessment procedures, except where an alternative scheme has been approved by the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education (APVCE).
      5. Student handbooks should contain references to the status of marks released. Students should also be informed on how and when results will be available.
      6. All individual marks should be communicated directly to the student, via email or as appropriate, but not by public notice except in the case of 6.4.3.
    6. Access to Examination Scripts and the Provision of Feedback
      Further examples of appropriate approaches to examination feedback are found in the Education Tool Kit.
      1. Faculties/Departments shouldconsider the following when facilitating the sharing of feedback on examination scripts. The nature of the assessment will determine the type of feedback that should be received. For examinations where sharing of examination scripts is not possible, please see section 6.1.2.
        1. Online Examinations: Where possible, examination scripts are released online to students alongside the release of their marks.
        2. Paper Examinations: Where possible, examination scripts are made available for students, either physically or electronically:
          1. Physically: Students can come and review in a secure location on campus, at a specific time, in liaison with their Hub / Info Point Team. The student is able to take notes, and where appropriate, photos of their script for their own personal use, and/or to discuss with their Tutor. Any discussion with their academic would take place separately, e.g., as part of Office Hours. Photos/notes can be used to inform these discussions. Paper examination scripts will be available for students and academics to access for a minimum of 12 months from the date of assessment, before they are sent for archive. Students should request feedback during this time to avoid undue delays in accessing their scripts from the archive.
          2. Electronically: Where physical review is not possible examination scripts are scanned, for example by the Hub Team, they should be electronically (and securely) shared with the student.
      2. Responsibilities of the Faculty (led by the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education):
        1. Approaches to providing examination feedback, including access to examination scripts (post-marking), should be decided upon by the Faculty, delegated to the Directors of Education and Student Experience, to ensure parity for students.
        2. Faculties should provide clear guidance for students so that they know how to access their examination feedback, including any information about access to examination scripts, where appropriate. They should also include guidance on how this type of feedback may differ compared to other assessments, such as coursework. Where a student will not be able to see their examination script due to system constraints, such as with Multiple Choice Tests (MCT), this should be made clear to them by the Faculty.
        3. If examination scripts are made available to students, Faculties should endeavour to make them available as soon as possible following examination periods, in line with the timely feedback policy above. Students should be provided with clear guidance on whether any associate marks recorded on the script are provisional or final.
        4. Any opportunities for synchronous group feedback should be scheduled at a time of day that is accessible for all students, where possible.
      3. Responsibilities of the student:
        1. The student must not remove or modify an original script; it is shared with them by the Faculty purely for their own educational use. Any breach of this will likely be considered under Academic Misconduct.
    7. Examination Scripts - Data Protection and Retention
      1. Notwithstanding the access that may be granted under the guidance above, 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. The Act also allows discretion to universities to provide access to examination scripts if they so wish. At the University of Exeter, this is at the discretion of each Faculty and/or Department.
      3. Faculties (or delegated Schools) should ensure staff are aware that all students may access examination scripts as outlined above, and that any notes and annotations added to scripts will be seen by students who see examination scripts following these requests.  
      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. Faculties (or delegated Schools) 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 Faculty (or delegated School) records (held either within a Faculty (or delegated School) office or by an individual member of staff).
      6. Faculties (or delegated Schools), should note that they are under no obligation to retain scripts/remarks purely for the purpose of the Act (although they should be retained, as per the Data Retention Policy, where required, for appeals/complaints, for example). 
    8. Enquiries by Third Parties
      1. Results/marks must only 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
    9. 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.
    10. 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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