Correlation of Feedback Comments with Student Attainment on an Open University Module

Robson, L. (2017). Correlation of Feedback Comments with Student Attainment on an Open University Module. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, IATED pp. 1862–1867.



A key aspect of good student support is giving personalised feedback to students on their performance, and supporting them to bridge the gap between their attainment and the desired level of achievement (Ramaprasad, 1983). This project looked at the feedback provided by four tutors on a work based learning module: T227 Change, Strategy and Projects at Work, at the Open University UK.

Walker (2009) reported that many students do not understand comments on their work, or are unable to apply that feedback to their future learning and assessments. This project builds on Walker's work to investigate any variation in the feedback students with different attainment levels are being offered.

Just under 1900 individual feedback comments from 48 student assignments were analysed, to look for any variation in the type and style of feedback given to students achieving different levels of attainment. The comment analysis was undertaken using a variation of Brown and Glover’s (2006) feedback classification system, to identify the motivational category (positive, neutral, negative) and practical category (indication, correction, explanation) of each feedback comment provided to the student.

The analysis showed a correlation between assignment grade and positive comments, and a negative correlation between assignment grade and negative comments. However, despite a bigger attainment gap on the scripts which scored lower there was no correlation between assignment grade and number of comments, or any correlation between negative and correction comments. Many comments were classified as indication, but did not offer any explanation of exactly what was good or bad within the student work.

Here the consequences of these findings are discussed in terms of how tutors may want to reconsider their practice to optimise feedback and improve student support.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions