Student Voice

The current understanding of student voice in assessment and feedback

By Eve Bracken-Ingram

At Student Voice, we take great interest in the large body of research relating to student voice in higher education. A systematic literature review by Sun et al. (2022) (Source) explores student voice relating to assessment and feedback. The study analysed 38 peer reviewed research papers from 2011 to 2022 to identify how student voice research is used to inform assessment and feedback within higher education, and the methodological characteristics of student voice studies. The selected studies came from multiple geographical locations and consider a range of disciplines within higher education.

Student voice research can be categorised as either qualitative, quantitative or mixed. Qualitative methods primarily used within student voice research, but there has been a recent increase in mixed method studies. This shift may be related to the prevailing view that students should be active partners within research, rather than taking the role of research subject (Cook-Sather, 2018). Data was typically collected via surveys, focus groups and individual interviews. However, other methods such as observations, documents and reflective journals were also utilised in student voice research. This demonstrates the broad range of research methods used. A varied use of research and data collection methods allows for an extensive understanding of student perspective of assessment and feedback.

Research on student voice in assessment and feedback focused on three areas:

  1. Student experience and satisfaction
  2. Teaching, assessment, and feedback practice
  3. University environment and support

Student voice contributes greatly to the student experience. Students who participate in voice report to have more confidence, greater motivation, and increased agency. These factors increase student satisfaction within higher education. Additionally, students develop skills in critical thinking and articulation which allow them to excel throughout their education and to thrive in future work environments (Zhou, Zheng, and Tai, 2020).

Student voice provides teachers with invaluable information with which to improve their teaching methods. In order to increase performance and satisfaction, teachers should use a range of strategies to tailor their methods in response to student perspective. Studies suggested that student voice is essential for the development of successful assessments. For example, several studies indicate that students prefer, and perform better, when they are assessed frequently via shorter tasks. Additionally, studies indicate that frequent, detailed feedback would improve their learning and confidence. By applying this insight to their assessment practices, teachers could improve student satisfaction and performance, and effectiveness of assessment.

Many studies focused on how student voice could be used to improve university support services. Student voice provides vital insight into how higher education institutions can create supportive learning environments for all students. For example, student voice has revealed that international students often struggle with assessment. Universities could respond to this feedback by creating support services such as assessment proof reading for international students. Actions such as this would promote inclusivity and equity, and aid learning within higher education.

There are several limitations with the current research on student voice in assessment and feedback. A very limited number of studies involved international students. Therefore, current understanding of student voice does not accurately represent the perspectives of marginalised students. Future research much ensure that diverse voices are captured to promote equity within assessment research practices. A further limitation is the lack of studies involving dual degree program students. Different disciplines have distinct mindsets and expectations and therefore discipline type provides essential context for student perspective. Research including dual-discipline students would offer a unique perspective on assessment and feedback in higher education. An additional limitation of existing student voice in assessment and feedback studies is their cross-sectional design. In order to obtain insight into the lasting effects of student voice, studies should be carried out across a longer timeframe. Without continued study, it is difficult to determine the true effect of any adjustments made in response to student voice.


[Source] Shuting (Alice) Sun, Xuesong (Andy) Gao, Bita Dwi Rahmani, Priyanka Bose & Chris Davison (2022). Student voice in assessment and feedback (2011–2022): a systematic review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2022.2156478

[1] Cook-Sather, A. (2018). Tracing the Evolution of Student Voice in Educational Research. In: Bourke, R., Loveridge, J. (eds) Radical Collegiality through Student Voice. Springer, Singapore.
DOI: 10.1007/978-981-13-1858-0_2

[2] Zhou, J., Zheng, Y., and Tai, J. H.-M. (2020). “Grudges and Gratitude: The Social-Affective Impacts of Peer Assessment.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 45(3), 345–358.
DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2019.1643449

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