Exploring the emotional responses of undergraduate students to assessment feedback: implications for instructors

Hill, Jennifer ORCID: 0000-0002-0682-783X, Berlin, Kathy, Choate, Julia, Cravens-Brown, Lisa, McKendrick-Calder, Lisa and Smith, Susan (2021) Exploring the emotional responses of undergraduate students to assessment feedback: implications for instructors. Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 9 (1). pp. 294-316. doi:10.20343/teachlearninqu.9.1.20

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Summative assessments tend to be viewed as high stakes episodes by students, directly exposing their capabilities as learners. As such, receiving feedback is likely to evoke a variety of emotions that may interact with cognitive engagement and hence the ability to learn. Our research investigated the emotions experienced by undergraduate students in relation to assessment feedback, exploring if these emotions informed their learning attitudes and behaviours. Respondents were drawn from different years of study and subject/major. A qualitative approach was adopted, using small group semi-structured interviews and reflective diaries. Data were analysed thematically and they revealed that receiving feedback was inherently emotional for students, permeating their wider learning experience positively and negatively. Many students struggled to receive and act upon negative feedback, especially in early years, when it was often taken personally and linked to a sense of failure. Negative emotional responses tended to reduce students’ motivation, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Some students, especially in later years of study, demonstrated resilience and engagement in response to negative feedback. By contrast, positive feedback evoked intense but fleeting emotions. Positive feedback made students feel cared about, validating their self-worth and increasing their confidence, but it was not always motivational. The paper concludes with recommendations for instructors, highlighting a need to communicate feedback carefully and to develop student and staff feedback literacies.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Assessment feedback; Emotions; Thematic analysis; Feedback literacy; Learning attitudes and behaviours
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Professional Services > Academic Development Unit
Research Priority Areas: Society and Learning
Depositing User: Rhiannon Goodland
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2020 15:02
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2023 16:57
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/9031

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