Formative feedback for academic writing: Stuck in the mud?

Lisa Robinson, Sandra Leigh and Richard Lee


The assumption is tutor feedback is usable and valuable for students. It should support and encourage, with the effort spent by both tutors and students reflected in the final piece of submitted work. However, the reality is that feedback can often be a demotivating experience for both parties. This paper explores the multidimensional nature of effective formative feedback on academic writing submissions, moving from key theoretical points to practical application. Drawing from a range of literature, we propose our own criteria for effective and efficient feedback and consider the question ‘What kind of marker are you?’ We then map components of Yang and Carless’ feedback triangle (2013) to authentic feedback extracts in order to operationalise research findings and provide practical guidance for developing feedback practice. Pre-sessional student responses to feedback represent the final element in our triangulation of theory, ongoing practitioner development and student voice, which we believe has the potential to transform feedback practice and enrich the student experience.