Students’ expectations of feedback given on draft writing

  • Shena Lamb
  • Zach Simpson
Keywords: Feedback, academic writing, mixed methods, Writing Centres


Academic writing is the primary means of assessing university students and feedback (oral or written responses) on writing can contribute significantly to student learning and success (Ferris, 2003; Hyland & Hyland, 2006). This study explores students’ expectations of feedback on draft writing. The research design was two-pronged. The initial quantitative aspect employed a questionnaire which students completed after receiving feedback from Writing Centre consultants who aim to give developmental feedback. A subsequent phase involved focus groups with volunteer students. This mixed methods design allowed for greater depth of understanding as the qualitative findings extended the quantitative results. The study concludes that students expect feedback to be understandable, encouraging and to focus on both positive and negative aspects of their writing. Importantly, students expect feedback to ‘unpack’ the conventions of academic literacy while still encouraging independence and originality.

Author Biographies

Shena Lamb
Since 2005 Shena Lamb has been coordinating one of the writing centres at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.  She worked as an editor for the United Nations in Rome for seven years before co-founding a sustainable development project in Spain where she lived for 12 years.  She is currently doing an MA in conflict management. E-mail address:    
Zach Simpson
Zach Simpson coordinated the University of Johannesburg’s Writing Centre from 2007 to 2009.  He has since left the Centre to pursue writing-intensive teaching in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.  He holds an MA degree in Applied English Language Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand.E-mail address: