Feedback: What is it good for?

A recent LTA Connect webinar saw Dr David Watt from Perth College UHI discuss the use of staff panels to give students deeper and more meaningful feedback. This novel approach  is currently employed with year 4 degree students on three programmes (Music Business, Audio Engineering, Popular Music) and is a reconceptualisation of assessment, and its associated feedback, as a tool to support learning and not just a way to measure standards at the end of a learning experience.


David and his team’s approach employs the concept of Mutually Constructed Feedback which has been successfully embedded at Edinburgh College of Art. Central to this notion is that feedback does not consist simply of the tutor commenting on the student’s work but is rather constructed by both student and tutor in a discussion of those comments. This discussion allows the student to ask questions, to really understand what the comments mean, and to know how they can go about making improvements.


Diagram from Pirie et al. (2011)

David and his team meet with their students individually once per year during the mid-semester break. The panel format is used so that students get rounded feedback about their overall academic performance. Students take notes and use these to plan areas for personal development; these notes often form the basis of ‘action plans’ that are shared with their Personal Academic Tutor (PAT).

Some staff, initially resistant to this new approach, have been persuded of its merits  given the overwhelmingly positive response from students (“I felt valued, supported”). David and his team plan to extend this initiative to students in year 3 of their programmes in 2017-18.

You can access a recording of David’s webinar from the LTA website

Heather Fotheringham

References and further reading

Pirie, I. (2011) Institutional Case Study-ECA 2: Assessment and Feedback. Edinburgh: QAA Scotland. Available:

Pirie, I., Cordiner, S. and Triggs, J. (2011) Digital Spaces for Learning and Assessment in Art and Design (Conference paper) ‘Future Learning Spaces, the 7th annual Designs on E-learning 2011 conference’. Held 27-30 September 2011 at Aalto University, Helsinki. Available:




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