Feedback literacy describes teachers and students developing a shared common understanding of effective feedback practice (see Evans, 20132016; Wong, 2019) with each playing a vital, but distinct, role in the feedback process.

This approach builds on a wealth of research highlighting that for feedback to support student learning, it is critical that students actively engage with and act on it (Winstone and Nash, 2016), acknowledging that barriers, such as not understanding or knowing how to interpret feedback, often mean students feel unable to act (Jonsson, 2013).

Developing students' ability to take an active role in the feedback process should equip them to become self-regulating, independent learners. Simultaneously, the staff role becomes less about being the sole provider of feedback comments, and more one that supports students’ understanding and engagement with a range of feedback opportunities.

Developing feedback literacy in practice

The Understand, Engage, Act (UEA) framework detailed below was developed as part of a Teaching Development Fund project carried out in 2021.

Key to the UEA approach is allowing space for students to talk, discuss, ask questions, and practice in a supported environment. This can take place in a variety of fora, including as part of scheduled teaching sessions or as specific workshops. This dialogue underpins each of the three stages detailed below.

Casestudy examples

The following are examples of how the Understand, Engage, Act approach and resources were used to enhance feedback practice:

Chemical Engineering

Staff and students used workshop spaces to discuss expectations around feedback, finding the feedback matrix resource particularly beneficial for stimulating awareness of each others' perspectives. The co-created action plan identified existing planned feedback opportunities, making small but impactful changes based on student input.

Staff quote:


From dialogue around expectations of feedback practice, staff and students identified a desire to better utilise peer feedback activity. This was a new feedback activity in the unit. The action plan detailed what role staff would take to set-up the activity, and alongside this the expectations on students to engage with this opportunity.

Although this was offered as an optional feedback opportunity, there was a good uptake across the cohort. The peer feedback activity was considered successful and has been offered to subsequent cohorts.

Student quote:

Further information

Carless, D. and Boud, D. (2018) ‘The development of student feedback literacy: Enabling uptake of feedback’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(8), pp. 1315-1325.

Find out more about the Understand, Engage, Act project.

Updated on: 01 September 2022