Unveiling the feedback secret: Your bridge to academic success


I’m Lala Ismayilova from Azerbaijan and I had the privilege of being an international Master’s student at the University of Bristol in the academic year 2022/2023 to study Education Leadership and Policy (MSc.). This enabled me to fully comprehend the blend of excitement that accompanies studying in a foreign land.

In this blog post, I aim to shed light on the transformative influence of formative feedback, emphasizing how it can serve as a vital conduit to achieving academic excellence during your tenure at this esteemed institution.

Unveiling the feedback secret: Your bridge to academic success

Picture this: you’re on an exhilarating journey in a foreign land, studying at the University of Bristol. While it’s filled with new experiences and challenges, it’s also an adventure that brings the opportunity to excel in your studies. But, like any adventure, you need a guide, and in the academic world, that guide is formative feedback.

What’s formative feedback, anyway?

Let’s keep it simple, just like following directions on a map. Formative feedback is your GPS for the academic journey. It’s that friendly, guiding voice—your educators—providing insights and directions to help you reach your academic destination. Think of it as a valuable conversation between you and your teachers.

Imagine driving on a road trip; you wouldn’t want your GPS to stay silent until you’ve missed your exit, right? Formative feedback is like that friendly GPS voice, guiding you in real time. It tells you how well you’re navigating where you are and suggests what’s next. It’s a two-way street, a valuable conversation between educators and you.

Early confusion, lasting transformation

When international Master’s students first arrive, they often scratch their heads, wondering, “What’s the big deal about this feedback thing?” It can be confusing and overwhelming at first. But here’s the good news: just like a puzzle, the pieces start to fit together over time.

As you progress through your programmes, you’ll start to see the light. You’ll realize that formative feedback is like having a mentor by your side, offering advice and helping you fine-tune your academic work. It’s not just about scores; it’s about growth.

What students love about formative feedback

Let’s focus on the good stuff. Here’s what our international Master’s students appreciate the most:

Timely and specific: You love getting feedback when it matters most – not weeks after you’ve forgotten what you did. Specific guidance helps you understand how to improve.

A tool for improvement: Feedback isn’t just about correcting mistakes; it’s a roadmap for doing better next time. You value constructive feedback that helps you grow.

Preparation for the big show: Formative feedback isn’t just for its sake; it’s preparing you for the big exams and projects. It’s like practice before the game day.

Peer interactions: Interacting with classmates and discussing feedback helps you see different perspectives and learn from one another. It’s like a collaborative learning journey.

Maximising the value of formative feedback

Now that you understand the significance of formative feedback, let’s delve a little deeper into how you can harness its full potential:

Seek it out: Don’t be hesitant – take the initiative to actively request feedback. Your educators are more than willing to provide support. If something seems unclear or challenging, never hesitate to reach out and seek their valuable guidance.

Use it wisely: When you receive feedback, don’t treat it as a mere document to be read and forgotten. Instead, consider how you can incorporate it into your work and elevate your performance. Remember, feedback is your guiding star towards continuous improvement.

Embrace peer learning: Engaging in discussions about feedback with your fellow students can open doors to fresh insights and different perspectives. This collaborative approach paves the way for personal and collective growth, enhancing your educational journey.

Effective communication: If you encounter challenges or have questions regarding the feedback, don’t hesitate to communicate with your teachers. Their role is not just to provide feedback but to guide you. Seeking clarification is a proactive step towards your academic progress.

Utilising study skills support: The university’s Study Skills Team is another valuable resource at your disposal to help you interpret and integrate formative feedback effectively. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for guidance. They can play a vital role in your journey to academic success.

By embracing these strategies, you can ensure that formative feedback becomes a powerful tool for your academic growth, propelling you confidently toward your goals and achievements. It’s not just feedback; it’s your key to continuous advancement.

Making feedback work for you

We, international students at the University of Bristol, come from diverse backgrounds with varying experiences in assessment. Some of us may have encountered grading without much feedback. It’s essential to understand that assessment is not merely about grading; it’s about academic growth.

Our educators are dedicated to our success and invest considerable time in providing formative feedback. However, it’s not a one-way street. If we disregard the feedback we receive, it becomes ineffective. Formative feedback isn’t a magic wand; it requires our active participation to enhance our academic outcomes.

As you embark on your journey at the University of Bristol, remember that formative feedback is your key to success. It’s a two-way conversation between you and your educators, a dialogue that shapes your academic growth.

Formative feedback may have felt like a foreign language to some of us initially, but with time and an openness to learning, it becomes an invaluable bridge between instruction and application. Take advantage of this lifeline to identify your strengths, address your weaknesses, and excel in your academic achievements.

So, to all our international Master’s students at the University of Bristol, embrace formative feedback as your trusty companion. It’s here to help you shine, learn, and excel during your time abroad. Your academic adventure is about growth, and formative feedback is your secret weapon on this exciting journey.

Wishing you all the best on your academic journey, and may success accompany you every step of the way!


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Twitter: @LalaIsmailova6

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