ABCD of Effective Feedback - sparqs


The ABCD of Effective Feedback, along with the Student Learning Experience diagram, is at the heart of sparqs’ Course Rep Training. It describes the approaches students and their representatives should take when giving feedback on the learning experience to staff.

  • A is for Accurate – Feedback should not be reliant on sweeping generalisations and emotional reactions, but be evidence-led, specific and backed up by research into students’ views and experiences.
  • B is for Balanced – Feedback should not only highlight the negatives but also praise the positive. Talking with staff about what is going well is a great way to build a good working relationship and helps staff identify good practice.
  • C is for Constructive – Feedback should be about proposing ideas and suggestions, and not expecting staff to have to do all the creative thinking about how to improve something. By helping to develop solutions, students can be real partners with staff in enhancing learning.
  • D is for Diplomatic – Feedback is about the learning, not the teachers. It is not an opportunity to criticise individual staff members, but to talk about what learning feels like and looks like to students. Avoiding personal comments keeps conversation focussed on learning and makes it easier to talk to staff about enhancement.

The ABCD is not just a tool for students and representatives, but for staff too.  What cultures and structures can best promote an “ABCD” ethos in feedback?  How can staff reflect on the ABCD as a standard for the sort of feedback they can and should expect to be able to work with?  How can institutions and students’ associations work together to promote ABCD as a basis for authentic dialogue between staff and students?

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