Research Output

Can we enable students to reach their potential through engaging with feedback – a feedback pathway?

  In response to our experience and supporting evidence [1] that students may not engage with, understand or use their feedback, we have created and introduced a ’feedback pathway’ into a level 9 module. This pathway promotes engagement with and the active use of feedback by staff and students within a module, across modules and across levels of programmes to promote and deepen student learning. The initial catalyst for the pathway came from the Confident Futures workshop ‘Making Feedback Work For You’ which was included in the module BMS09100 Immunology as part of the Feedback for Learning Campaign (2009-2012). This workshop is designed to encourage student awareness of the learning process, and utilises elements of self-motivation theory and research [2] to tackle the issue of non-engagement and inadequate Action Planning on academic feedback. Research based concepts provide insight into what motivates or demotivates students to reflect and act upon feedback in order to enhance their future performance. This is complemented by an Action Planning tool that facilitates students in developing a true awareness of their ability levels, clarifying the meaning of specific feedback and promotes derivation of appropriate improvement orientated actions. The development of the pathway spanned three years from inclusion of the workshop in BMS09100 (2012), to adoption of the principles within the module (2013), to embedding the Action Planning tool and workshop principles as important elements in student learning within the programme (2014). Examples of elements of the pathway include; students (level 9, trimester 2) seek and reflect on key assessments of trimester 1 to inform and develop learning practices in trimester 2, facilitated by their Action Planning tool. A core trimester 2 module provides an accessible, feedback-rich-environment for students to interact with their feedback. The feedback from this module is delivered, in part, in level 10 with the relevance highlighted in the context of level 10. Space and time is provided to the students to interact with this feedback to inform their action planning for level 10, trimester 1.

Initial analysis of the impact of the pathway suggests that students experienced a deeper learning. From inclusion (2012) to embedding (2014), the average module mark for BMS09100 has remained constant while 4 comparable modules average marks have generally declined. In 2014, the percentage of merits achieved in BMS09100 compared with these modules was increased, as was the quality of the merits. Supporting the BMS09100 module data, the average response on the Internal Module Satisfaction Survey to ‘Feedback on my coursework has helped me with my learning on this module’ was 1.5 (1 = strongly agree). The average for the combined comparable modules was 2.5 (2 = agree).
Our experience indicates that the concepts included, and the pathway approach could be embedded in programmes of different subject areas with ease and provide a unique springboard that lecturers can use to provide a feedback-rich-environment for students. We plan to use this session to share our innovative feedback pathway and engage with participants to seek input to develop our approach further.

1. Price, M., Handley, K., Millar, J. and O'Donovan, B. (2010) 'Feedback all that effort but what is the effect?', Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 277-289.
2. Mangels, J. A., Butterfield, B., Lamb, J., Good, C.D., & Dweck, C.S. (2006). Why do beliefs about intelligence influence learning success? A social-cognitive-neuroscience model. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 1, 75-86.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    06 January 2015

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Malone, E., & MacNab, A. (2015, January). Can we enable students to reach their potential through engaging with feedback – a feedback pathway?. Presented at The Teaching Fellows Conference, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh



Student learning, feedback, engagement,

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