Developing academic buoyancy and resilience through the assessment feedback process

Assessment feedback can be an opportunity to develop students’ academic buoyancy (Martin & Marsh, 2008) – itself a part of students’ academic resilience. Academic buoyancy refers to the ability to manage the everyday setbacks and challenges in education, such as a disappointing grade.

This research builds on the findings and proposals for action from the first phase of research into the effect of assessment feedback on the academic buoyancy (ahmed Shafi et al. 2016) of undergraduate students studying BA Education Studies. This identified 5 indicators of academic buoyancy and 3 consequent suggestions for changes in practice for assessment feedback processes within a BA Education Studies course.

This follow up research seeks to explore the impact of the changes to practice on the academic buoyancy of students at the end of one academic year. The data collection methodology is comprised of three parts; focus group interviews with students, individual student interviews and an analysis of National Student Survey (NSS) scores for the previous and current academic years.

This research situates itself within the action research approach (Elliott 1991) within a desire to improve the democratic and virtuous nature of teaching (Elliott 2015), through critical reflection and the ‘theory-practice conversation’ (McAteer 2013 p.12). Consideration will also be given to a subsequent phase of research, to be undertaken to examine longer-term impact of the approaches examined within this phase.

The changes in processes to the assessment feedback provided students with: a revised feedback sheet with an enhanced focus on strengths, reasons for achievement of grade and suggestions to improve the mark; teaching sessions with a focus on the development of academic buoyancy through the 5 indicators; and a tutorial structure where students are tasked with discussing individual self-identified development points derived from the feedback.

This research seeks to identify the impact of this scaffolding approach (Bruner 1978) on students’ perceptions of the value of the revised assessment feedback process and how this relates to their academic development, their emotions and their overall satisfaction with the BA Education Studies course as a whole.

The project aims to inform the professional learning of teaching staff through identifying the effectiveness of research-informed practice which may then be considered for use within their own courses and institutions.

370 Words

ahmed Shafi, A., Hatley, J., Middleton, T., Millican, R. & Templeton, S. (under review) ‘The Role of Assessment Feedback in Developing Academic Buoyancy’ Assessment and Evaluation in HE
Bruner, J. S. (1978). The role of dialogue in language acquisition. In A. Sinclair, R., J. Jarvelle, and W. J.M. Levelt (eds.) The Child’s Concept of Language. New York: Springer-Verlag
Elliott, J. (1991). Action research for educational change. Milton Keynes: Open University Press
Elliott, J. (2015). Educational Action Research as the Quest for Virtue in Teaching. Educational Action Research, 23(1), 4-21
HEFCE (2016) National Student Survey. Available at:
Martin, A.J. and Marsh, H.W. (2008) Academic buoyancy: Towards an understanding of students’ everyday academic resilience. Journal of school psychology, 46(1), pp.53-83.
McAteer, M. (2013) Action research in education. Sage.