Mahmood, Saqib (2018) Second Language International Postgraduate Students’ Perceptions of Assessment Feedback: An Analysis. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study seeks to investigate the attitudes, beliefs and experiences of second language (L2) international students regarding tutor written feedback and its impact upon their learning in a UK university. The present study uses qualitative interpretive research paradigm that synthesizes the academic literacies (AL) approach and critical discourse analysis (CDA) to investigate students’ perceptions of feedback on their assessed work. The AL approach positions the students’ feedback experiences as socially situated phenomena enmeshed within the wider socio-cultural context of academia. The data for this study came from two main sources: (1) semi-structured in-depth interviews with 26 students of varying nationalities and departments (2) teachers’ feedback sheets. To collect appropriate qualitative data, the participants read aloud their tutor feedback comments, which were transcribed verbatim and analysed using CDA techniques. The data were divided into various themes such as functions of feedback, helpful and unhelpful feedback, feedback and its impact on self-esteem, motivation, confidence and the power-differentials of the student-teacher relationship. The findings of the study have shown that assessment feedback is a unique form of communication which takes place within the wider socio-cultural context of a UK university. The study highlights that the process of giving and receiving feedback involves a complex interplay of self-esteem, identity, motivation, emotion and the power relations. The study also highlights that the participants have had little or no experience of receiving such feedback in their countries of origin. Therefore, the move from one academic context to a UK university turned out to be challenging for L2 international students. The study sheds light on the question of how different linguistic, educational and cultural backgrounds of L2 international student presented them challenges while coming to terms with new assessment expectations, writing requirements and academic culture of a UK university. The CDA of tutor comments on students’ assignments revealed that the amount of feedback varied from tutor to tutor. Moreover, the tone of comments indicated a lack of balance between praise, criticism and suggestions. By looking at the student perspective, the study has offered deep insights into the reasons why international students show dissatisfaction with feedback, what problems they encounter while making meaning of the feedback discourse situated in new educational and socio-cultural environment. In brief, to better understand assessment feedback as a socially situated practice, this research has addressed the questions of how the interplay of issues such as discourse, identity, power, control and social relationships mediated students’ perceptions of feedback.

MAHMOOD FINAL THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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