Keynote Address AHE 2018: David Carless

Feedback for the longer term: Developing student feedback literacy

Professor David Carless: University of Hong Kong

We need new ways of thinking about feedback in that doing more of the same is insufficient. In particular, it is unrealistic to place the main burden on teachers to provide more and more comments to large numbers of students. Much needed are more efficient ways to encourage student use of the feedback that is available.

For feedback to be effective, students need to engage actively and productively with information they receive and use it to improve their work or learning strategies. To facilitate progress towards this goal, students need feedback literacy: the understandings, capacities and dispositions needed to make productive use of feedback information.

A key theme is that a longer term perspective is required. It is important that students experience multiple opportunities to develop their feedback literacy across the curriculum and throughout their program. Four inter-related features of students’ feedback literacy are proposed: appreciating feedback; making judgments; managing affect; and taking action. I draw on a longitudinal inquiry into four case study students’ experiences of feedback to illustrate the development of some of these features.

Some affordances and challenges for the co-ordinated development of staff and student feedback literacy are sketched and I conclude by outlining an agenda for researching student feedback literacy.

Professor David Carless works in the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong. He specializes in approaches to assessment which serve to support productive student learning processes. His signature publication is the book Excellence in University Assessment: Learning from Award-winning Practice (2015, Routledge). His current research is focused on students’ experiences of feedback and the development of student feedback literacy. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is currently co-authoring with Naomi Winstone a book for the SRHE Routledge series on Feedback practice in higher education. He tweets about feedback research @CarlessDavid


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