Written feedback: what is it good for and how can we do it well?

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Feedback in Higher and Professional Education, 2013, 1, pp. 104 - 124
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Almost all students and teachers spend a vast amount of time writing. Paradoxically, in the age of electronic media, \VIi.ring, emails or 'texting' has replaced many other forms of communication, so when the opportunity arises to give or receive feedback there is a high likelihood that it will be delivered in written form. There are great differences in what and how we write. For example, as young researchers, we might spend a week or tw-o blitzing out a long rambling article. Then, in the struggle to communicate to others, over the following many months, we hone the paper into something that somebody else would like to read, using many self-feedback loops. This type of auto-feedback forms the major part of most academics' experience of feedback. Finally when we ran out of our own resources, or when our writing showed visible improvement, we sent it to someone else for judgement or formal feedback. Sometimes that person was the editor of the intended journal, and sometimes it was just a colleague, Either way, there was usually a long wait, and the results were altogether unpredictable. 'iI1ith all this writing being done, and with the amount of self-feedback that we generate, one might think that: a) a lot of feedback to others gets delivered via writing; b) guidance about how to give written feedback is pretty well formulated; c) this guidance is underpinned by substantive research on written feedback.
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