Deakin University

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Characterising feedback cultures in higher education: an analysis of strategy documents from 134 UK universities

Version 2 2024-06-13, 17:40
Version 1 2022-05-31, 15:19
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 17:40 authored by NE Winstone
AbstractFeedback can be framed as a one-way transmission of information driven by educators, or as a two-way process, in which students’ agentic participation is critical to its success. Despite calls for a shift away from the former framing towards the latter, transmission-focused models of feedback continue to dominate practice internationally. Approaches to feedback in any given setting are likely influenced by the dominant feedback culture. The present study aimed to characterise ‘feedback cultures’ within higher education by systematically examining how feedback is framed in 134 UK universities’ (a) educational strategies and (b) Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Provider statements. These documents serve to encapsulate each institution’s views of excellence and best-practice; nevertheless, analysis of the documents revealed a stronger focus on the transmission of feedback comments than on supporting students’ learning through feedback processes. Linguistically, students were positioned passively within the documents, as being on the receiving end of teachers’ actions, rather than actively driving their own learning through feedback. These findings inform a framework for conceptualising feedback cultures in higher education, which positions approaches to feedback design, feedback processes and the evaluation and development of feedback on a continuum from transmission-focused to learning-focused. It is argued that strategy documents shape practice in subtle ways; in order to shift towards learning-focused feedback cultures, consideration must be given to how students’ roles and responsibilities are positioned in both policy and practice.



Higher Education




Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal