Listening to the student voice on assessment & feedback


Two weeks ago, Teaching and Learning Day at DCU came to fruition and it was am amazing success. The highlight of the day turned out to be commencing with the student panel discussion.Originally I had

Originally I had organised a keynote but due to illness this was cancelled and I reorganised the schedule to begin with the voice of students.

Assessment is claimed to be the senior partner in learning and teaching. (Biggs & Tang, 2011) and can be a motivating (or demotivating factor) in students engagement in learning. Assessment enables the measure of student achievement and success and students deeply acknowledge the importance of assessment in their learning processes. While literature (Carless, 2015; Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Y1feedback, 2016) can provide approaches for creating assessment for/as/of learning (Earl, 2003). Having an opportunity to hear the student voice on topics of assessment proved powerful on teaching and learning day. Students were asked about thoughts and feelings about assessment processes in higher education and how those processes were working for them (The list of questions are provided at the end of this post). I had met the students to brief them with the questions before the panel. I knew at that point that hearing their experiences would be useful to DCU staff.

Students shared that they wanted greater transparency in what was expected of them in assessments. They indicated that examples of previous assignments of other students would be useful. One student commented that his favoured assignment had been an authentic real-world assignment completed where an external professional in his discipline mentored him and gave feedback. Others noted that feedback was important to them and they liked to know how they were doing in their learning, but they said that feedback sometimes came too late at the end of the semester. One student highlighted that a lecturer delivered feedback via podcast to the entire class group and this was useful in knowing what to avoid and what to continue doing.

In all it seems that these students were very interested in enhancing their assessment outcomes and they appreciated having their experiences heard. Similarly teaching staff valued hearing student opinions about this – A win-win situation!

The Storify of the day has tweets and other comments of interest, see more on

 Questions for student panel 

  1. When you are working on an assignment do you know what your lecturer expects of you?
  2. How do you find out what your lecturer expects of you?
  3. Do you ever refer to the module learning outcomes when doing your assignments?
  4. Do Lecturers provide choices in the assessment type you get to do?
  5. Do your lecturers use rubrics? If so do you find rubrics helpful?
  6. How do you typically receive feedback on your work?
  7. And how would you LIKE to receive feedback?
  8. If you have received feedback, how long do you wait for feedback (days, weeks?)
  9. Do you receive feedback through Turnitin or podcast or other technology?
  10. What do you do with feedback? Do you take it on board for the next assignment?
  11. How would you feel about peers providing feedback?
  12. Have you experience of giving peers feedback?



Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2011) Teaching for Quality Learning at University (4th ed). Maidenhead, Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Carless, d. (2015) Excellence in University Assessment: Learning from award-winning practice. Routledge

Earl, L. M. (2003) Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximise Student Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.

Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of educational research 2007 77: 81

Year 1 Feedback Project Team (2016) Technology-Enabled Feedback in the First Year: A Synthesis of the Literature. Retrieved from content/uploads/2016/04/SynthesisoftheLiterature2016.pdf



About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
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