Involving students in feedback
There’s a compelling case for going beyond information-giving about feedback. The goal becomes one of trying to develop students’ ability not just to make sense of feedback, but also to put it to good use to improve their learning. Written guidance has a role to play in pursuing this goal, and two such examples (see ASKe, 2009a; and Burke, 2008) can be accessed below. But most approaches don’t rely on just one way of honing feedback utilisation skills; they use a combination of strategies:
- raising students’ awareness of the purposes of feedback (Orsmond et al, 2005), or aligning student and staff expectations of feedback and its aims (ASKe, 2009b)
- using past examples of marked assignments to ‘show students how feedback was used to improve the quality of later assignments’ (ASKe, 2009b)
- following up electronically supported feedback with meetings of students and their tutor to discuss how to use that feedback effectively (Case, 2007)
- synthesising past feedback on students’ work to craft individual learning plans for forthcoming assignments (Duncan, 2007)
- channelling additional guidance on using feedback through lectures, seminars and group emails (Case, 2007)
- a ‘pre-assessment intervention’ (ASKe, 2009c), the core of which is a 90-minute workshop which students prepare for by marking and commenting on two sample assignments in their subject area with the aid of assessment criteria and grade descriptors provided by the course team.
- developing an adaptation of a visualisation technique to support students in translating tutor feedback into concrete actions, couched in more accessible language (Hurford and Read, 2008)
Bloxham, S. and Campbell, L. (2010) Generating dialogue in assessment feedback: exploring the use of interactive cover sheets. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 35(3), 291-300.
Tutors teaching Outdoor Studies gave students feedback on their assignments by answering the students’ questions about their work. However, first-year students had a limited understanding of expectations and standards and so were less able to indicate the feedback they would like.
ASKe (2009c). Improve Your Students’ Performance in 90 Minutes! Oxford: Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange, Business School, Oxford Brookes University.
A guidance leaflet aimed at lecturers and tutors.
Bing-You, R.G., Bertsch, T. and Thompson, J.A. (1998) Coaching Medical Students in Receiving Effective Feedback. Teaching and Learning in Medicine 10(4), 228-231.
A workshop was designed to improve the skills of Medical students in receiving feedback and participate actively in the process.
Burke, D.(2008) Using Feedback Well (Sharpen Up Your Skills: writing and assignment skills) Wolverhampton: University of Wolverhampton, School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences.
This guidance is addressed specifically to students on how to make the most of written feedback from tutors.
Buswell, J. and Matthews, N. (2004) Feedback on feedback! Encouraging students to read feedback: a University of Gloucestershire case study. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 3(1), 59-65.
Before receiving a grade for their work, students studying Leisure Management were asked to read the feedback and estimate their own grade.
Duncan, N. (2007) Feed-forward: improving students’ use of tutors’ comments. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 32.3, pp. 271-283.
In a Special Needs and Inclusion Studies module, students’ grades and feedback on earlier assessments were collected and analysed and the results applied to a new task on the target module.
Orsmond, P., Merry, S. & Reiling, K. (2005) Biology students’ utilization of tutors’ formative feedback: a qualitative interview study. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(4), 369-386.
This study reports the findings of interviews with third year Biology students on their utilization of tutor feedback. The students mostly used feedback in the following ways: (a) to enhance motivation; (b) to enhance and enrich learning; (c) to encourage reflection; and (d) to clarify understanding. Two further forms of usage were, firstly, to enrich their learning environment and, secondly, to engage in mechanistic enquiries into their study.
Sadler, D.R. (1998) Formative assessment: revisiting the territory. Assessment in Education, 5 (1), 77-84.
Hurford, D. and Read, A (2008) Feedforward: helping students interpret written feedback. University of Cumbria/ASKe.
McCann, L. and Saunders, G. (2008) Improving student perceptions of assessment feedback. Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Social Policy and Social Work (SWAP) Case Study.
A powerpoint presentation was created that could be used by academic staff in Policy Studies to brief students on how to use feedback well.