What is Focus On?

Each year, we choose a topic for the Focus On project based on findings from Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR). We invite all Scottish higher education institutions and students’ associations to tell us how we can best support them on the topic. This guarantees what we do will be useful and relevant.

Why Feedback from Assessment?

Feedback from Assessment was an area for development in nine reviews in Scotland during the last review cycle. The things the review teams thought could be better were:

  • timeliness of feedback
  • helping students to use feedback to understand grades
  • consistency of feedback across different subject areas
  • the quality of feedback.

The project

We consulted with Scottish HEIs and students’ associations to see where they thought we should focus our work on feedback. As a result, we will work to try to improve students’ experiences of feedback from assessment. This will include work in the following areas:

  • Feedback from assessment: what do students think?
    We wanted to look at what students think about the feedback they receive to find out what’s helpful and what isn’t. We have to work with a wide range of students at all stages of study in a variety of institution types. We have also looked at what the evidence might be telling us (for example evidence from the student-led teaching awards and student surveys such as the National Student Survey). We hope that what we find will feed into policy and practice.
  • Following up on Feedback: where are we now?
    In 2014-15 we ran a Focus On: Assessment and Feedback project. We want to look at how the sector has progressed since then. Most of all, we will look at institution-wide approaches to improving feedback from assessment. Explore how developments in technology can help to support staff to provide effective feedback.


Feedback from Assessment Web Week


At the end of June 2018 we ran four webinars on topics identified as areas of interest by delegates at the sharing practice event. The webinars were recorded, and are included in a YouTube playlist.

  1. Striking the right note with audio feedback
  2. What are student perceptions of good feedback from assessment?
  3. Practical and peer-assessment video evidence with equine, arboriculture and vet nursing students
  4. “Do You Even Twitch?” Exploring applications of video feedback in higher education.


@QAAScotland hosted a Twitterchat using the hashtag #unifeedbackready. You can view the conversation in our Twitter moment.

Feedback from Assessment films

  1. Sector progress and the future for feedback
    How far has feedback come in the last 5 years and what still needs to change? What are the big things affecting the sector now? What progress have we made? Staff and students give their views.
  2. What do staff and students say about feedback?
    What do students think works and what do staff think and is there a difference? What makes feedback useful for students and motivates them to use it? What responsibilities do staff and students have in making feedback work? Staff and students give their views.
  3. Using technology for assessment feedback
    How can we use technology effectively to improve feedback? What works? Staff and students give their views.

Sharing practice event

Held in March, 100 staff and students from 15 institutions, as well as colleagues from the school sector, shared their practice on, ‘What's worked and what hasn't? (2013-2017). Materials from this event can be found below.

Focus On: Feedback from Assessment
What has TESTA ever done for us?
• Implementation of the UHI assessment, feedback and feedforward policy
Using rubrics in Turnitin
Audio-visual feedback: Staff student satisfaction and student attainment
Harnessing institutional NSS and course level data
Has HE got all the answers?
How to spot, love and use feedback
Express yourself: Striking the right note with audio feedback

Project – What can we learn from Teaching Awards?

Our project looking at what University and Student Association teaching awards tells us about what students’ value in feedback is almost complete. Fourteen universities and students’ associations have contributed so far, and the final report will be available in July 2018.

Want to know more?

We include information on assessment and feedback in Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) reports. If you would like further information or would like to be added to the Focus On mailing list, please email QAA Scotland.


Related resource

Assessment and Feedback: Thematic Report on ELIR Reports 2013-16

Publication Date: 11 Jul 2017

This report identifies material relating to assessment and feedback within all 18 reports published in the ELIR 3 cycle. ​The institutions included are: the University of Aberdeen; Abertay University; the University of Dundee; the University of Edinburgh; Edinburgh Napier University; Glasgow School of Art; Glasgow Caledonian University; the University of Glasgow; Heriot-Watt University; the University of the Highlands and Islands; Queen Margaret University; Robert Gordon University; the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Scotland's Rural College (SRUC); the University of St Andrews; the University of Stirling; the University of Strathclyde; and the University of the West of Scotland.

Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 192 KB

Links between Focus On and the national Enhancement Theme

Our Focus On work will help with the national Enhancement Theme. The current Theme is ‘Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience’. As part of Focus On, we will be thinking about the questions:

  • How do students use feedback on their assessments now? How can we help students to make better use of the feedback they receive? How can we improve student satisfaction with feedback from assessment? 
  • We will gather institutional evidence about the student experience. How can we use this to enhance feedback from assessment processes?
  • How has the use of technology enriched the evidence we have about effective feedback from assessment? How can we use that evidence to make future improvements?

We will report our findings to the Theme Leaders Group (TLG).