September 29, 2015

Feedback strategies with growing student numbers

The History Department has traditionally used a mixed feedback strategy, providing written comments on formative student work throughout the year, followed by a 15 minute face to face essay tutorial. For summative feedback, written comment is provided on both essays and exams electronically via Tabula, providing brief comments and two or three 'ways to improve'. However, as a consequence of dramatically increasing student numbers, this strategy has come under strain. The departmental teaching fellows often teach 6-7 groups of 15 students per group on the same module. This means that they face not only marking 90+ essays within the allotted 20 days but also organising essay feedback sessions of 15 minutes each (22.5 hours!)

So, the Department are discussing alternative manageable feedback strategies and would welcome comments and suggestions. These are our thoughts so far:

  • the minimum expectation is that formative essays will be marked within the 20 days and returned to students. Students will then be offered the chance for a face to face tutorial outside the 20 day window, but these will not be compulsory as in the past
  • summative feedback will remain the same
  • there will be a wider variety of feedback strategies in addition to, or instead of the written comments: audio feedback inserted into pdfs or word documents; annotated essays using track changes/comments; peer feedback in seminars; generic essay tutorials in class after the submission of a piece of work making general points about how the whole cohort tackled the assignment and ways to improve; adoption of forms/boxes to tick against marking criteria

We will discuss these strategies with our students but welcome any thoughts in our on-going discussions.

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