How do you like yours?

Helen Wakeford, the president of the Students’ Union, is passionate about academic feedback. She aims to shake things up a bit at Glamorgan with her feedback campaign…

Student looking at his grade

What is Feedback?

student with lecturer

You’ve probably got an idea about what feedback means to you. With luck, your ideas about feedback and those of your lecturer match up – but just to make sure everyone is on the same page, here’s a list of different feedback methods:

  • Verbal feedback: your lecturer may comment about your work without being prompted. You can also ask them direct questions. Don’t be afraid of your lecturers; answering your questions is part of their role.
  • Written feedback: the (in)famous comments in your coursework or exam paper. Make sure you collect your coursework so that you see the comments, and see where improvements can be made. However, don’t assume that this is the only form of feedback!
  • Group feedback: you can learn from your peers. Some lecturers will organise group exercises or tutorial workshops to facilitate this.
  • One-to-one feedback: Most lecturers have office hours or are available for appointments. Don’t be afraid to make use of this opportunity – it’s perfect for fine tuning your academic work and asking questions about your lecturer’s expectations.

Don’t for a moment think that the big shiny grade on your essay is the only feedback you are entitled to – or that it is the only thing that matters. So, with that in mind, are you getting good feedback? Is the feedback you get

  • …of high enough quality?
  • …timely?
  • …meaningful?
  • …delivered in such a way that you can learn from it?

Always remember that feedback is a learning tool. That means different people have different preferences for feedback. If you are a visual learner, you may want to see those all-important comments in your essay. If you learn better by listening, then maybe you need to ask your lecturer questions and hear their answer. If you learn by doing, then perhaps the interactivity of a workshop environment is best for you. Of course, it may not be possible for every single piece of academic work to provide you with feedback of every type, but if you find yourself not getting the desired feedback at all, then you should probably let someone know…

Getting it

A person giving an enthusiastic thumbs up gesture

So, you’re looking at a piece of coursework, you see the grade, and you have no clue how this grade came about? If you were awarded 100%, then this may well be fine, but what if not? Here’s a few things you could do:

  • Ask your lecturer. This could be at the end of a lesson or in their office hour. They should be helpful and willing to talk you through it. Make an appointment if need be.
  • Talk to your Course Rep. They can bring it up at departmental meetings, and ensure that your concern is heard. Others on your course are probably in the same boat, so don’t be shy about raising the issue.
  • Mention it to the Students’ Union. You’ll find out about FBAs a few paragraphs down, but let’s just say the current Union President has a keen interest in this matter, and can bring it up at the top level in the University if need be.
  • Be sure to mention it in any surveys or feedback that the University asks you for. Every module should ask you for feedback towards the end of the academic year, and there are various other surveys throughout the year where you can mention things that you are happy or unhappy about. Academic feedback may well be one area that you’d like to comment on.

Student run, student led

By now you’re probably wondering how your Students’ Union is involved in all of this. Here’s what the SU will be doing this year to put feedback at the forefront of everyone’s minds:

FBA

The Union will organise a squad of volunteer FeedBack Agents (FBAs) to spread the word. They’ll be distributing information, carry out quick surveys, attend Union Council and help the Union gauge how well the different departments in the University are doing. You may notice them on campus soon, wearing fashionable FBA t-shirts. Or maybe you want to join the squad yourself? If you’d like to be an FBA, email supres@glam.ac.uk for more information…

Postcards

Is your lecturer not quite as proactive in giving feedback as you’d like them to be? The Union is producing postcards that can be put in their office underneath the door as a fun little reminder that students want more feedback. They could be anonymous, or you could write a message on it if you like.

Awards

an award

Shhhh, this is still top secret and totally inofficial: the Students’ Union is planning to hand out awards to lecturers this year. Do you have an outstanding lecturer, whose feedback is invaluable? Someone who really deserves a massive pat on the back for their hard work and clear enthusiasm? If all goes to plan, you won’t just have to rely on a little feedback sheet at the end of the year to sing their praises: you will be able to nominate lecturers for awards through the Students’ Union. Keep your eyes peeled for more information, coming soon…

Your president

If you would like to be an FBA, or want to know more about the feedback campaign, get in touch with Helen Wakeford. She has an open-door policy, so you can turn up at the Union (in Brecon building) any time and say hello in person, or you could try emailing her: supres@glam.ac.uk.

Features on Glamlife

You may have noticed articles similar to this one appearing on Glamlife in recent weeks. You can find an overview of all features here: http://glamlife.glam.ac.uk/features

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