Conventional or sustainable? Chinese university students' thinking about feedback used in their English lessons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Feedback has been increasingly conceptualised as a dialogical process where students interpret the provided information through interaction with comment providers and use it to enhance their learning. A major challenge for the development of sustainable feedback is closely related to how students think about it. This study explored how 25 Chinese university students made sense of instructor and peer feedback following their English group presentations. The findings reveal that most of the participants perceived more judging and encouraging functions of feedback than its improving functions, which reflected their conventional thinking about feedback. Variation also existed in the perceived functions of instructor and peer feedback. Imbalanced power relations, face, group harmony and instructors' feedback practice as well as students' past learning and assessment experiences appeared to inhibit the participants from viewing feedback in a sustainable way. This study sheds light on college students' complex thinking about feedback in a non-Anglophone context which has been neglected in the feedback literature, and has implications for educators and researchers in facilitating sustainable feedback in the Chinese context and the non-Chinese contexts where Chinese students study. Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-986
JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number7
Early online dateJan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


group relations

Bibliographical note

Zhan, Y. (2019). Conventional or sustainable? Chinese university students' thinking about feedback used in their English lessons. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(7), 973-986. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2018.1557105


  • Chinese university students
  • Functions of feedback
  • Instructor feedback
  • Peer feedback