Examining evaluative language used in assessment feedback on business students’ academic writing

Shrestha, Prithvi (2022). Examining evaluative language used in assessment feedback on business students’ academic writing. Assessing Writing, 54, article no. 100664.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2022.100664


Written assessment feedback in higher education has been examined from different perspectives. However, there is limited empirical evidence of how tutors use language to provide assessment feedback on students’ assessed academic writing. By deploying the rarely used Appraisal framework in Systemic Functional Linguistics, this innovative study examined the use of evaluative language by tutors in feedback on undergraduate business students’ academic writing in two assignments at a distance university. The data consisted of 16 tutor assessment feedback summaries on eight students’ written assignments and interviews with those students. The Appraisal system of Attitude (Judgement, Appreciation and Affect) was used to analyse the evaluative language of the summaries. The analysis of student interviews provided insights into their perceptions of tutor feedback, complementing the linguistic analysis. The findings suggest that tutors’ evaluative language was primarily used to judge students rather than to appreciate the assignment, and show their emotional reactions, potentially owing to the distance learning context. Additionally, while most of the feedback was perceived positively, students found certain types of tutor feedback less helpful. The paper has implications for moving assessment feedback research forward through applying the Appraisal framework, improving assessment strategies and tutor formative feedback practices in writing assessment.

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