The impact of formative feedback on the development of academic writing

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This paper presents a small-scale exploratory study, which focuses on the impact of formative assessment that was provided as part of a writing intervention in a first-year undergraduate programme. Qualitative data were collected to find evidence of use of formative feedback, and of resulting improvements, as well as to shed some light on students' inclination to use feedback. Uptake and use of the formative feedback was assessed by an analysis of feedback comments on students' texts as well as by students' interviews. The findings showed that students who had utilised their feedback comments improved in the areas previously criticised. In the texts of several students, however, the same problems persisted; it became apparent in the interviews that they had paid little attention to their feedback comments and not acted upon them. The interviews also uncovered reasons for engagement or non-engagement with the feedback. These include students' high or low motivation based on the enjoyment of the degree programme and self-perceptions of their ability as writers. It is argued that more attention needs to be paid to tone, style and amount of feedback comments to ensure that students with low motivation and a low self-perception utilise them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519 - 533
Number of pages15
JournalAssessment & Evaluation In Higher Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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