This article will discuss the findings from a qualitative analysis of 136 pieces of written feedback on summative student assessments. The assessment and feedback mechanisms vary in format, and the sample covered all three levels of an undergraduate programme (four courses) in one case department. This article will evidence linguistic variations in written feedback which signify an unequal discursive relationship between the marker and student. This variation is likely to contribute to issues in feedback clarity and consistency. Tensions amid the language used reflect academic gatekeeping, and the interpersonal aspect of feedback, will be discussed with reference to notions of 'linguistic capital'. Assisting students in the interpretation of written feedback, and encouraging alternative forms of feedback to enhance staff-student dialogue will be suggested as recommendations.
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