Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Feedback on assessment

Providing feedback on assessments to students

Providing timely and effective feedback to students on assessment items helps students to feel welcome, reassured, and engaged in learning as they progress through their studies.

What is expected at CSU.

Staff at CSU have a responsibility to provide relevant feedback on all items of assessment. In providing feedback to students, you need to;

  • ensure that the feedback is timely, informative and supportive;
  • outline what the student did well, what they did not do well and how the work can be improved;
  • ensure the marks are justified against the stated assessment criteria and standards and
  • refer relevant students to appropriate academic and support services and Assessment Principles Policy.

Technology Enhanced Feedback on Assessment, a Faculty of Education research group from Monash University had produced this resource at and this short guide on principles and components of feedback.

Feedback methods for assessment

This table presents some assessment task types with related feedback roles:

Assessment taskFeedback
Test, diagnostic, progress test MCQ,etc Self, peer, tutor, computer
Plan, proposal, draft Self, peer, tutor, Turnitin
Reflective writing/learning journal Self
Concept maps Peer, tutor
Semi-formal discussion/debate Self, peer, tutor
Indiv/group presentation Peer
Online fora, discussions, blogs Peers, tutor
Online Q&A/Peer support forum Peer
Two-stage/multi-stage submission of assessment Tutor
Cumulative coursework (portfolio,log,workbook) Tutor, peers,placement supervisors,work colleagues
One - minute paper Tutor
In-class worksheet Tutor

How can I be effective and time-efficient?

Students expect to receive comments throughout their assignments as well as an overall feedback comment. The challenge for markers is to provide this level of feedback while being time-efficient. Focus your comments on the key elements of the task. You may like to comment on grammar and spelling in the first page of written assessments then after this use a Language and Literacy Template or a comments bank to save you time. A Language and Literacy comments bank is now incorporated in NORFOLK 4.

Make sure you refer to the marking criteria and standards when assessing the students' work. Can you see clear evidence in their work of what is required for a particular grade level? You can also use this as a guide when composing the final feedback comments to students at the end of the assessment.

How can I use NORFOLK for marking assessments?

NORFOLK is a time efficient platform that allows you to mark students' work. Features include comments banks, rubric creation, Audio feedback, and Language, Literacy and Numeracy templates. Go to NORFOLK for video instruction and support. Located at Interact2 Help and Support/Teaching and Professional Staff/Assessment/Norfolk.

How do I provide effective feedback comments?

The key elements of effective feedback to students are personal engagement with the student, communicating to the student what they did well, what they did not do well and how their work could be improved by being specific and using a feedforward strategy. Focus on being constructive (never sarcastic or humiliating) and always finish with a positive statement and an invitation for more communication. Here is a suggested structure for how you can put together your final comments to students on their assessment.

[Adapted from Henderson, M. & Phillips, M. (2014). Technology enhanced feedback on assessment. Paper presented at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014, Adelaide, SA.]

ComponentRationale Example text for relevant section
Greeting Sets the scene. Hi Sandy, well done on submitting your first assessment in this subject.
Relational work Acknowledge students circumstances. I know this is a busy time for first year students so I commend you on completing this work.
Goal statement Allows you to highlight what particular items feedback will focus on. The primary goal of my comments will be to give you feedback on the key arguments of your case study
Evaluative summary General evaluative statement highlighting strengths and weakness before going into specifics. What I noticed straight away was (focus on the key elements that link to the task).
Textual work Describe the patterns with one or two examples. One thing that would improve this work (focus on what needs improving that relates to the task). For example in your introduction you…..
Comment on substance with emphasis on feedforward Structure comments on how students can improve and extend their thinking. Think about what this means in a broader context…… (Comment on the substance of the assessment with emphasis on feed forward).
Wrap up and invitation for further communication Again incorporates the personal component and invites a continued conversation with the student on feedback to guide future work. Congratulations on the work you have done so far. I'm looking forward to what you do next. If you would like to have a meeting to talk more about how to improve the work please don't hesitate to call me.

Further information on this approach can be found at Learning with New Media, A Faculty of Education research group, Monash University.

What makes an effective marking rubric?

A clearly articulated marking rubric can assist you in marking assessments and also supports effective feedback by enabling students to understand where they sit on the continuum of performance measures.

Key features

  • Criteria are clear, and link to the task and the Learning Outcomes;
  • Criteria are weighted relative to the importance of the component of the task;
  • Standards are clearly described and differentiated;
  • The pass level is clear evidence of the Learning Outcome.

What do students think about marking rubrics?

A group of students from across the Science Faculty were invited to provide feedback on their university experience, including courses, subjects and assessment practices. Their answers were insightful and show a highly sophisticated understanding of marking rubrics and CRSBA.

Some of the key themes relating to assessment include:

  • Students appreciate, understand and want to use rubrics. They find rubrics helpful and "essential".
  • Students appreciate detailed, explicit assessment advice well before assessments are due. Sample responses, guidelines and headings/outlines are also highly valued.
  • Generic rubrics, or rubrics with scant detail, are felt to be of little use and frustrating.
  • Students feel unfairly disadvantaged when the rubrics provided are not what they are being marked on.
  • Students value feedback and feel they are not getting enough guidance to understand where they went wrong and how to improve for next time.
  • Students like to know how assessment tasks relate to the subject learning outcomes and are confused when links are not made clear.
  • Consistency across the marking and teaching team is imperative. Receiving different advice from lecturers, subject outlines, rubrics and markers is confusing and frustrating for students (not to mention unfair).

The fundamental point to consider when using a marking rubric, is that it's a communication tool. Well written criteria and standards, along with a clear assessment task description amounts to good communication.

So check your assessment marking rubric and see if these features are apparent as this will ensure effective and efficient marking of student's assessments. If you can see some areas that need improving or the students are consistently making the same errors, make some notes so improvements can be made in future offerings of the subject.

You can find further information on the Example Rubrics page for some exemplars of effective practice and Assigning grades and marks on the Developing quality assessment in your subject page for guides on how to mark.

Feedback on Assessment Resources

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