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'My work is bleeding': Exploring students' emotional responses to first year assignment feedback

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Samantha Shields


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This paper explores the emotional responses that assignment feedback can provoke in first-year undergraduates. The literature on the link between emotions and learning is well established, but surprisingly research on the relationship between emotions and feedback is still relatively scarce. This article aims to make an additional contribution to this emerging field. Semi-structured interviews with 24 first-year undergraduate students from the Humanities and Social Sciences department in a post-1992 institution were conducted. The interview narratives identified how the emotional impact of feedback was related to: prior experiences of education, the significance participants attached to the feedback received on their first assignment and how their interpretations of feedback comments were linked to beliefs about themselves as learners. The implications of these experiences on student ‘belonging’ and learning are discussed. The underlying themes that emerged from the findings are the polarised emotions of anxiety and confidence. Based on the findings, the paper concludes by making recommendations for reconceptualising feedback on first-year assignments. It suggests that a holistic assessment approach, which incorporates timely feedback indicating if students are ‘on the right lines’ with low-stakes assignments, is a practice that may both reduce anxiety and increase confidence to support students.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shields S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Teaching in Higher Education

Year: 2015

Volume: 20

Issue: 6

Pages: 614-624

Print publication date: 02/07/2015

Online publication date: 02/07/2015

Acceptance date: 11/05/2015

ISSN (print): 1356-2517

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1294

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2015.1052786


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