• When is a word not just a word? An investigation into the dissonance and synergy between intention and understanding of the language of feedback in legal education

      Ellison, Lynn; Jones, Dawn (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2020-03-12)
      When is a word not just a word? Can it be expected that using an everyday word or phrase when providing feedback means that it will be understood in the same way by different students at various stages of their academic journey? No matter how well intended feedback is, if a student is unable to correctly interpret the language used, it will prove to be of little use. This research considers the dissonance between the intended message of written feedback on written assessments provided by law academics and the understanding of the recipient. The authors used survey method to obtain free text comments which identified common words and phrases used in legal academic feedback, along with academics’ experiences and opinions of the effectiveness and purpose of feedback. The common words and phrases identified through this process were then incorporated into surveys undertaken by students at three of four levels of study. This stage of the research was completed by examining the qualitative data gathered, paying particular attention to the language of feedback itself. This was completed in the context of examining existing literature surrounding the general language of feedback, but focusing on specific legal language. The authors encountered some unexpected misinterpretations and some surprising synergy.