Intercultural Feedback Literacy – A new concept in the context of diverse and internationalised higher education

Dr Richard Bale, Senior Teaching Fellow in Educational Development, CHERS

How can we make our feedback practices more inclusive? What does it mean to be feedback literate from student and educator perspectives? What does it mean to be interculturally competent? How do culture and language affect how feedback practices are conceptualised and enacted? These are some of the questions that Dr Monika Pazio Rossiter and I grapple with in our recent paper: Cultural and linguistic dimensions of feedback: a model of intercultural feedback literacy, published in Innovations in Education and Teaching International.

Our work so far
With backgrounds in linguistics and applied linguistics, Monika and I have for a long time thought about how language and culture shape or influence various practices and interactions, including feedback practices. We both have experience of working and studying in other countries and of working, studying, and teaching in a second language, which has given us first-hand experience of how language and culture can influence how we operate in educational spaces. When we first started our current research, we both initially began by thinking about how feedback is conceptualised in the cultures and languages that we know, ranging from what feedback means in those cultural contexts to what the word for feedback is in various languages. It quickly became apparent to us that there is a wide variety of conceptualisations and, in fact, some languages do not have a word for feedback. This then raised the question: in a highly internationalised and diverse university like Imperial, how can we be sure that educators and students, who come to the College from all over the world, have common understandings about feedback?

We turned to the literature and drew in particular on the concept of feedback literacy, with the prevailing models by Carless and Boud (2018) and Carless and Winstone (2020) outlining the dimensions of student and teacher feedback literacy, respectively. This was a useful starting point, but what, to us, seemed to be missing was explicit reference to the roles that culture and language play in developing feedback literacy in both students and teachers. We started to think about how cultural and linguistic factors could be incorporated into existing feedback literacy models, drawing on Darla Deardorff’s model of intercultural competence (Deardorff, 2006), which led to the development of our theoretical model of intercultural feedback literacy (IFL) as presented in our paper. We are excited about this as an extension of the existing discourse around feedback literacy, and hope that the incorporation of language and culture can help to make feedback practices more inclusive.

What’s next?
We have already started to do some research in the form of interviews and focus groups (see Pazio Rossiter, 2022; Bale & Pazio Rossiter, forthcoming) to explore what our model of IFL means in practice. We will continue with this research and also plan to develop it further in light of feedback and critique from readers. We are also aware that, so far, our model looks at ‘large’ notions of culture in terms of ethnic and national cultures. We plan to expand the model to incorporate other levels of culture, such as ‘small’ cultures (Holliday 1999), which take into account how, for example, institutional or disciplinary cultures affect our conceptualisations of and practices around feedback.

We welcome any questions or feedback about our work so far. Please get in touch!;


Bale, R. & Pazio Rossiter, M. (forthcoming) The role of cultural and linguistic factors in shaping feedback practices: The perspectives of international higher education teaching staff. Journal of Further and Higher Education.

Carless, D., & Boud, D. (2018). The development of student feedback literacy: Enabling uptake of feedback. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(8), 1315–1325.

Carless, D., & Winstone, N. (2020). Teacher feedback literacy and its interplay with student feedback literacy. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(1), 150–163.

Deardorff, D. K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3), 241–266.

Holliday, A. (1999). Small cultures. Applied Linguistics, 20(2), 237–264.

Pazio Rossiter, M. (2022). ‘What you mean versus what you say’ – Exploring the role of language and culture in European students’ interpretation of feedback. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

Pazio Rossiter, M. & Bale, R. (2023). Cultural and linguistic dimensions of feedback: A model of intercultural feedback literacy. Innovations in Education and Teaching International.


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