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Feedback on Exams

Learning & Teaching Podcast Now Available - Episode 027: Creative Practice

Feedback on Exams

Feedback on exams may differ from the types of feedback that you are accustomed to providing on coursework.

In particular, the timing of end-of-semester exams can make providing feedback challenging.

What the University Requires:

  • Feedback and provisional marks must be returned to students within 20 working days from the end of the exam period
  • For Semester 2 exams, feedback can be provided either within the 20-working-day deadline or at the start of the next term/semester
  • Whole-class feedback must be issued to students within these deadlines, and students must be informed that they have the option to request individual feedback
  • Units are not required to return copies of scripts to students or allow students to see scripts, although they may choose to do so. Students have a legal right to request access to the breakdown of marks and markers’ comments

The Newcastle University Policy on Feedback of Assessed Work provides more detail on the requirements of marking.

Exam Feedback and Feed Forward

Feedback should ‘feed forward’ and aim to help students improve their performance in future assessments. This can be built into your teaching through a range of activities:

  • Exam feedback provided to one module cohort can be used to structure revision sessions for students in the same module the following year
  • In tutorials, you can ask students to respond to previous exam feedback and brainstorm the relevant marking criteria
  • Students could practice marking samples of work from the previous year's cohort

Individual feedback on exams

Academic units are required to provide individual feedback on request. They may choose to provide individual feedback on all exams or on specific exams for which students may require extra or more personalised guidance.

Methods of providing individual exam feedback

  • Feedback Requests - In the School of Mathematics and Statistics students use a feedback request form. Asking students to explain why they wish to receive individual feedback can help staff to tailor the feedback appropriately.
  • Feedback Afternoon - The School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics host a feedback afternoon each semester. Marked exam scripts are available for students to consult with the module leaders on a one-on-one drop in basis.
  • Individual Recording - ReCap allows you to talk a student through their exam as you would in person. Recordings can be quicker than typing feedback and students can listen to them again. Feedback can be made over several days and then sent individually to students at the same time to ensure parity.
  • Individual Exam Scripts - Copies of exam scripts and marking sheets with written feedback can be returned to students. These can be posted to students over the summer for semester 2 exams.
  • NU Reflect - You can view marks with tutees in NU Reflect and encourage them to reflect on their assessments and ways to improve. Your feedback notes on assessments can be uploaded into ePortfolio and shared with students individually. Students can make and share notes with their tutor before a tutorial/feedback session and further notes afterwards detailing their next steps.
  • Online Exams - Canvas quizzes allow you to write feedback for questions prior to the exam being taken. This is then automatically generated if the question is answered incorrectly. 

Whole-Class Feedback

Whole-class exam feedback is intended to guide students in measuring their performance against the standards of the exam marking criteria and in assessing how they met the intended learning outcomes.

At minimum, whole-class feedback should explain the expectations for a basic (pass-level) answer versus higher-scoring answers and outline common student mistakes. It is often most useful for students to address individual questions, although this may not be possible for some exam formats.

Methods of providing whole-class feedback

  • Feedback documents - Marine Science and Technology use an exam feedback pro forma. This gives detailed feedback on individual questions providing students with a context for understanding their own performance. This is uploaded to a VLE or circulated via email.
  • In-class feedback - The School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences have made use of time-tabled sessions to provide whole-class feedback. As the powerpoint slides in this example from a second-year module shows this enables them to give key points on each question which can be discussed in the session.
  • Feedback recording - Generic feedback could be provided through a PCap recording, made at your desk, detailing key points for the whole class. This recording could be uploaded to the VLE or Blackboard or distributed by email.