All entries for May 2011

May 30, 2011

The Challenge of Improving Feedback


The pdf file contains the slides of a presentation that I gave to the Aldwych Group (the students union officers of Russell Group universities) at Warwick in April. It is based on the interim findings of a research project that I am participating in: It's Good to Talk: Feedback, Dialogue and Learning. The project is funded by the National Teaching Fellowship project strand and is based at de Montfort University. It also draws upon the work of the King's-Warwick project which considered what research-intensive universities may provide for graduates of the 21st century.

Our research has found that there is a mismatch between what students want in terms of feedback and what academics/universities are supplying. Students appreciate tailored and very specfic individual feedback but often policies are leading to more generic forms with an emphasis on the contractual relationship.

We have now started to compile some recommendations for staff and for students so that both parties maximise the opportunities for dialogue and what we have termed, 'a mixed economy of feedback strategies'.

These are our draft tips for staff and students. They are very much at a preliminary stage and so we would love some feedback ourselves!

Developing feedback-dialogues - tips for lecturers:

Explicitly state to students when you are providing feedback

Consider the nature of your discipline and how this influences the types of feedback you currently use and how it may be developed further.

Use assignment exemplars for students to discuss

Create informal spaces to encourage dialogue

Build in opportunities for questions and challenges in your teaching

Incorporate a mixed economy of feedback delivery: audio, verbal, written, email, peer

Create a range of spaces for feedback delivery: seminars, tutorials, workshops, drop-in sessions

Build peer-to-peer feedback into module design

At the outset begin with a culture of sharing/feedback dialogues in your teaching

Ask students what aspects of their assignments they would like feedback on

Feedback-dialogue tips for students:

    Be confident! Feel the fear! Go and see your tutor for feedback!

      Prepare a few questions you want to ask before seeing your tutor

        Think about what you want feedback on e.g. structure, analysis, referencing?

          Discuss your assignments with other students (this is not ‘copying’)

            Learn how to give constructive, tactful and positive feedback to other students

              Ask for constructive assignment feedback comments from other students

                Give constructive assignment feedback comments to other students

                  Recognise different types of feedback opportunities – verbal, written, email, audio, peer, self

                    Think about when and where you can get feedback – seminars, tutorials, before/after a lecture, workshops, via email, phone, other students, yourself

                      Be organised – if you want feedback for your next assignment (from tutors or students) – don’t leave it until the last minute.

                        Use exemplars of assignments and discuss with other students – this will help you understand what is being required.

                          Further reading on feedback-dialogue

                          Bloxham, S & West, A (2007) Learning to write in higher education: Students’ perceptions of an intervention of developing understanding of assessment criteria, Teaching in Higher Education, 12 (1), pp. 77 – 89

                          Bloxham, S. & West, A. (2004) Understanding the rules of the game: marking peer assessment as a medium for developing students’ conceptions of assessment, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 29 (6), pp. 721-733

                          Burke, D. & Pieterick, J. (2010) Giving Students Effective Written Feedback, Buckingham: Open University Press

                          Duncan, N. (2007) ‘Feed – forward’: Improving students’ use of tutor comments, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 32 (3), pp. 271 – 283

                          Lea, M. & Street, B. (1998) Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach, Studies in Higher Education, 23 (2), pp.157- 172.

                          Liu, N.F and Carless, D. (2006) Peer Feedback: The Learning Element of Peer Assessment, Teaching in Higher Education, (11) 3, pp. 279–290

                          Nicol, D. J and Macfarlane – Dick, D, (2006) Formative assessment and self – regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31 (2), pp. 199-218

                          Poulos, A. & Mahony, M. J. (2007) Effectiveness of feedback: the students’ perspective, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33 (2), pp.143 – 154

                          Sadler, D. R. (1998) Formative assessment: revisiting the territory, Assessment in Education, 5 (1), pp.77–84.


                          May 25, 2011

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