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‘My work is bleeding’: exploring students’ emotional responses to first-year assignment feedback

Shields, Sam


Sam Shields


This paper explores the emotional responses that assignment feedback can provoke in first-year undergraduates. The literature on the link between emotions and learning is well established, but surprisingly research on the relationship between emotions and feedback is still relatively scarce. This article aims to make an additional contribution to this emerging field. Semi-structured interviews with 24 first-year undergraduate students from the Humanities and Social Sciences department in a post-1992 institution were conducted. The interview narratives identified how the emotional impact of feedback was related to: prior experiences of education, the significance participants attached to the feedback received on their first assignment and how their interpretations of feedback comments were linked to beliefs about themselves as learners. The implications of these experiences on student ‘belonging’ and learning are discussed. The underlying themes that emerged from the findings are the polarised emotions of anxiety and confidence. Based on the findings, the paper concludes by making recommendations for reconceptualising feedback on first-year assignments. It suggests that a holistic assessment approach, which incorporates timely feedback indicating if students are ‘on the right lines’ with low-stakes assignments, is a practice that may both reduce anxiety and increase confidence to support students.


Shields, S. (2015). ‘My work is bleeding’: exploring students’ emotional responses to first-year assignment feedback. Teaching in higher education, 20(6), 614-624.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 11, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 2, 2015
Publication Date Aug 18, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 3, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2015
Journal Teaching in higher education
Print ISSN 1356-2517
Electronic ISSN 1470-1294
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 6
Pages 614-624
Keywords Feedback, Emotions, First-year student, Confidence, Anxiety
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:


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