Identifying how students can manage the psychological complexity of receiving assessment feedback is important to gain maximum learning and for teachers to facilitate empowering online learning environments. This study discursively explores how a group of students, learning online, psychologically process assessment feedback. Data comprised 29 posts from a student-initiated asynchronous discussion in a first-year undergraduate online distance psychology course. Posts centre around different ways of managing loss over lower-than-expected assessment feedback involving three repertoires: distress, discord and review; facing the difficulties; and ways forward comprising three resources: acknowledgement and solutions, lessons learnt, and accommodating challenges. The psychological loss arising from the removal of a psychological attachment to a grade aspiration is theorised. Findings show how students’ discourse functioned to (legitimately) challenge the teacher’s power while also creating constructive solutions, including exercising agency over one’s online learning. Teaching strategies for managing the psychology of receiving assessment feedback online are shared.
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