Feeling feedback: students’ emotional responses to educator feedback

Tracii Ryan, Michael Henderson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    103 Citations (Scopus)


    Assessment feedback allows students to obtain valuable information about how they can improve their future performance and learning strategies. However, research indicates that students are more likely to reject or ignore comments if they evoke negative emotional responses. Despite the importance of this issue, there is a lack of research exploring if certain types of students are more likely to experience negative emotional responses than others. This study builds on extant qualitative studies through a quantitative examination of two previously identified student variables: different citizenship backgrounds (domestic and international) and different grade expectations (higher or lower than expected). The participants were 4514 students from two Australian universities. Analysis of survey data revealed that, regardless of language experience, international students were more likely than domestic students to find feedback comments to be discouraging, upsetting and too critical. Students who received grades lower than they expected on a particular assessment task were more likely than students who received grades higher than they expected to feel sad, shameful and angry as a result of the feedback comments. This paper concludes with several recommendations, including the need to modify assessment feedback practices in order to be sensitive to different student cohorts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)880-892
    Number of pages13
    JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2018


    • Assessment feedback
    • grade expectations
    • individual differences
    • international students
    • negative emotion

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