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Why effective feedback is important to student wellbeing

Article Date | 28 September, 2022
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By Umme Farwa Amin, Lecturer in Health and Social Sciences at LSST’s Elephant and Castle Campus  .

It is a well-known fact that effective feedback is vital for enhancing student performance. Regarding effective feedback, Janice Orrella (2006) said it best: Assessment theories and academics alike espouse the importance of feedback on performance assessment tasks for supporting improvement and progress in student learning achievement”.

To enhance the student learning progress, formative and effective feedback plays a significant role in the wellbeing of students. A lack of self-confidence and a lack of desire to develop academic skills can be common among students with educational gaps, diverse backgrounds, and linguistic barriers. 

There is a range of psychological effects that can be achieved through feedback, such as increasing motivation, self-efficacy, and determination, or – by contrast – reducing it through minimal self-belief and anxiety that results in a state of 'learned helplessness’ (Ilgen and Davis, 2000). To conceptualise the role of feedback is to understand that feedback is usually received as a thinking, feeling and acting reaction from students (Boud and Molloy, 2012). The key points for feedback that will have an impact on student wellbeing are how it is framed, directed and received. 

The thoughts and feelings of students about receiving effective feedback lead to subsequent actions that will empower their work quality. Therefore, tutor feedback must take this into account and integrate self-evaluation into the process.  

Here are some techniques and types of feedback that can impact student wellbeing and progress:  

Self–development: Tutors must develop a habit of preparing lessons using an active learning approach prior to providing feedback. This will play an influential role in self-development. This in turn will encourage the student to acquire knowledge and help them to induce self-confidence in themselves (Coffield, 2004). 

Over-critical feedback: Providing vague feedback or overly critical feedback can negatively affect students if they perceive it as an ‘attack’ on them or even as a judgement. An individual's anxiety and feelings of failure rise as a result of negative assessment feedback, as well as impacting a reduced sense of confidence and competence. Jones, Nelson and Opitz (2020) advise to not provide negative feedback altogether. 

Praise and positive feedback: They are the same thing and do not necessarily require a formal method of communication. It is the student’s responsibility to respond positively to positive feedback to work harder and apply what they have learned. When students answer a question correctly or complete a task successfully, you can say 'well done' or 'great job' to give the student a boost. It is through these simple acts that students can become more motivated to continue working harder – or smarter – and to better apply themselves.   

Encourage students to respond: In order to receive feedback on their work, encourage students to respond to feedback with clear action plans. This will not only help students with their competence but also help them to develop a sense of their ability and growth which leads to an increase in self-efficacy. Effective feedback provides reassurance to students and a clear path for developing skills and wellbeing (Manning, 2011).  

Constructive Feedback: Feedback must be understood in relation to wellbeing and future learning behaviours for it to produce positive effects on student learning. Feedback comments can trigger emotional reactions within students that detract from their motivation and overall sense-making.  

Effective and specific feedback motivates and encourages students to enhance their knowledge, understanding and other academic skills.  In terms of learning and wellbeing, students are more likely to achieve success when they have an idea of how to improve and can then visualise and execute it. The key lesson is to work constructively with feedback, students may need support in understanding, recognising, and valuing it. By helping students recognise, accept, and regulate their emotional responses to feedback, we can help them build both confidence and competence.  

Contact the author at farwa.amin@lsst.ac  

How to reference this article 

Amin, U.F (2022). Why effective feedback is important to student wellbeing. LSST Blogs. Available at: https://www.lsst.ac/blogs/. [Accessed 28 September 2022] 

References 

Boud, D. and Molloy, E., 2012. Feedback in Higher and Professional Education. Education: Understanding it and doing it well, (1) [ Accessed 27 September 2022] 

Coffield F., Moseley D., Hall E., and Ecclestone K., 2004. Should we be using learning styles? What research has to say to practice, Learning and Skills Research Centre. [ Accessed 27 September 2022] 

Ilgen, D. and Davis, C., 2000. Bearing Bad News: Reactions to Negative Performance Feedback. Applied Psychology, 49(3), pp.550-565. [ Accessed 26 September 2022] 

Jones, D., Nelson, J. and Opitz, B., 2020. Increased Anxiety is Associated with Better Learning from Negative Feedback. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 20(1), pp.76-90. [Accessed 22 September 2022]. 

Manning, P., 2011. Use Your Words: Providing Informational Feedback as a Means to Support Self-Determination and Improve Law Student Outlook and Outcomes. SSRN Electronic Journal. [ Accessed 25 September 2022] 

Orrell, J. 2006. Feedback on learning achievement: rhetoric and reality. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 441-456. [ Accessed 22 September 2022] 

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