What lies beneath: exploring the deeper purposes of feedback on student writing through considering disciplinary knowledge and knowers
van Heerden, Martina
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Feedback plays an integral role in students’ learning and development, as it is often the only personal communication that students have with tutors or lecturers about their own work. Yet, in spite of its integral role in student learning, there is disagreement between how students and tutors or lecturers perceive the pedagogic purpose of feedback. Central to this disagreement is the role that feedback has to play in ensuring that students produce the ‘right’ kinds of knowledge, and become the ‘right’ kinds of knowers within their disciplines. This paper argues that, in order to find common ground between students and tutors or lecturers on what feedback is for, and how to both give and use it effectively, we need to conceptualise disciplinary knowledge and knowers anew. We offer, as a useful starting point, the Specialisation dimension of Legitimation Code Theory as both practical theory and methodological tool for exploring knowledge and knowers in English Studies and Law as two illustrative cases. The paper concludes that this analysis offers lecturers and tutors a fresh understanding of the disciplinary knowledge and knower structures they work within and, relatedly, a clearer view of the work their feedback needs to do within these.