An exploration of feedback provision in a pharmacy degree programme from students’ perspectives


  • Lezley-Anne Hanna Queen’s University Belfast
  • Maurice Hall Queen’s University Belfast
  • John Hennessey Queen’s University Belfast


Education, Feedback, Pharmacy, Qualitative


Background: When students across the United Kingdom were asked to evaluate their experience at university, the area they reported being least satisfied with was assessment and feedback. Aims: To investigate students’ views on feedback provision in a pharmacy degree programme. Method: Students were randomly selected and invited to participate in focus groups to discuss feedback. Discussions were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using a constant comparison approach. Results: Fifteen students participated in this qualitative study. Students considered feedback important for improving performance and clarifying mistakes. Participants provided opinions on what was important in relation to feedback and suggested how it could be further developed across the course. Conclusion: On some occasions, feedback provided failed to meet student expectations. However, several modules were deemed to be excellent and therefore provide examples of good practice which could be utilised within the School and by other universities. 

Author Biographies

Lezley-Anne Hanna, Queen’s University Belfast

School of Pharmacy

Maurice Hall, Queen’s University Belfast

School of Pharmacy

John Hennessey, Queen’s University Belfast

School of Pharmacy


Archer, J.C. (2010) State of the science in health professional education: effective feedback. Medical Education, 44(1), pp. 101-108.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998) Assessment and Classroom Learning. Assessment in Education, 5, pp. 7-74.

Butler, R. (1988) Enhancing and undermining intrinsic motivation: The effects of task-involving and ego-involving evaluation of interest and performance. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 58(1), pp. 1-14.

Collins, N. (2011) University funding slashed by £940 million. Available from million.html. Accessed July 4, 2011.

Crisp, B.R. (2007) Is It Worth the Effort? How Feedback Influences Students' Subsequent Submission of Assessable Work. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32(5), pp. 571-581.

Department of Business Innovation and Skills. (2011) Higher Education - Students at the Heart of the System: The Stationery Office.

Easton, K.L., McComish, J.F., & Greenberg, R. (2000) Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Qualitative Data Collection and Transcription. Qualitative Health Research, 10(5), pp. 703- 707.

Ende, J. (1983) Feedback in clinical medical education. Journal of The American Medical Association, 250(6), pp. 777-781.

Higgins, R., Hartley, P., & Skelton, A. (2002) The Conscientious Consumer: Reconsidering the role of assessment feedback in student learning. Studies in Higher Education, 27(1), pp. 53 - 64.

Higher Education Funding Council for England. (2011) National Student Survey: Findings and trends 2006-2010. Available from: http://www. Accessed June 27, 2011.

Hounsell, D., McCune, V., Hounsell, J., & Litjens, J. (2008) The Quality of Guidance and Feedback to Students. Higher Education Research and Development, 27(1), pp. 55-67.

Jamtvedt, G., Young, J.M., Kristoffersen, D.T., O'Brien, M.A., & Oxman, A.D. (2006) Audit and feedback: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD000259. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000259. pub2.

Kluger, A.N., & DeNisi, A. (1996) Effects of feedback intervention on performance: A historical review, a meta- analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), pp. 254-284.

Malterud, K. (2001) Qualitative research: standards, challenges, and guidelines. Lancet, 358, pp. 483-488.

Nicol, D.J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2004) Rethinking formative assessment in HE: a theoretical model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Available from http:// web0015_rethinking_formative_ assessment_in_he.pdf. Accessed July 26, 2011.

Nicol, D.J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative Assessment and Self-Regulated Learning: A Model and Seven Principles of Good Feedback Practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), pp. 199-218.

Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). California: Sage.

Race, P. (2008) Make learning happen: a guide for post- compulsory education. London: Sage.

Rowe, A., & Wood, L.N. (2008) What feedback do students want?, International Education Research Conference. Freemantle: Australian Association for Research in Education

Sadler, D.R. (1983) Evaluation and the Improvement of Academic Learning. The Journal of Higher Education, 54(1), pp. 60-79.

Sadler, D.R. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science, 18, pp. 119-144.

Shute, V.J. (2008) Focus on Formative Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78, pp. 153-189.

Strauss, A.L., & Corbin, J. (1990) Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory, procedures and techniques. California: Sage.

Strauss, A.L., & Corbin, J. (1998) Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). California: Sage.

Veloski, J., Boex, J.R., Grasberger, M.J., Evans, A., & Wolfson, D.B. (2006) Systematic review of the literature on assessment, feedback and physicians’ clinical performance*: BEME Guide No. 7. Medical Teacher, 28(2), pp. 117-128.

Watson, M.C., Cleland, J.A., & Bond, C.M. (2009) Simulated patient visits with immediate feedback to improve the supply of over-the-counter medicines: a feasibility study. Family Practice, 26, pp. 532-542.

Weaver, M.R. (2006) Do Students Value Feedback? Student Perceptions of Tutors' Written Responses. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(3), pp. 379-394.

Yorke, M. (2003) Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the enhancement of. Higher Education.





Research Article