Feedback: Completing the Cycle

Feedback cycles are useful concepts in biological systems, our everyday lives, and education. However, Higher Education is finding itself in something of a feedback crisis, with low student satisfaction despite high academic workload in this area. Here we explore how changing our conceptions of feedback in Higher Education could address this, and look at some positive cases of innovative feedback practice within bioscience disciplines.

This is the abstract of my article in the June 2018 edition of The Biochemist magazine from the Biochemical Society about Feedback: Completing the Cycle. You can read the article here.

My goals for this article were:

  • to highlight the frequent disconnect between staff and student opinions on the quantity of quality of feedback provisions in HE
  • to use the model of feedback cycles in biological systems as a tool to explaining this disconnect as a broken cycle, reducing potential for learning and growth
  • to comment on how shared responsibility of feedback between students and staff could begin to help remove barriers to feedback engagement
  • to showcase examples of good feedback practice in bioscience HE courses which move towards student-centric feedback cycles whilst reducing staff burden

This ties in well with my work as part of the Learning Science team, where we strive for quality feedback which is timely, targeted and consistent

Feedback nostrums (pseudo-medications) and their relation to reality. Adapted from "Feedback in Higher and Professional Education", edited by Boud and Molloy

Feedback nostrums (pseudo-medications) and their relation to reality. Adapted from "Feedback in Higher and Professional Education", edited by Boud and Molloy

I can highly recommend the book "Feedback in Higher and Professional Education", a collection of excellent essays, research and commentary edited by Professor David Boud and Professor Elizabeth Molloy. It provided valuable insights into the key problems with feedback in HE spheres and how conceptions of feedback are changing.

I would also like to thank Dr Robert Nash, Dr Lesley J Morrell, Professor Omid Noroozi and Associate Professor Jessica Vanderlelie for taking the time to check my summaries of their important research which featured in the article.

Finally, thank you to the Biochemical Society and the editors of The Biochemist magazine for working with me on this piece for its publication.

You can read the article here, I hope you enjoy it. I would, of course, be willing to receive comments which I will of course use as feedback(!) for future articles, wherever they may be. 

Emily Coyte
Digital Content Creator at Learning Science