Feedback: Research

eAssessment Scotland 2012 (Conference)

The theme for 2012’s conference was “Feeding back, Forming the Future” and there were a number of notable presentations:

What If Feedback Only Counted When it Changed the Learner?
Dr. Steve Draper, University of Glasgow

This talk discusses a candidate principle for feedback: “There is no point in giving feedback to a learner unless the learner acts on it: does something concrete and differently because of it”. This would apply equally to hand-written and e-Assessment; and to essay-based and calculation-based subjects.

As you know, most teachers give written feedback as if it is a required deliverable, like a checkout assistant handing every customer the printed receipt, even though few use them. The recent fad for setting return times for feedback is also like this: guaranteeing a service with no attention to whether it has any useful effect. E-assessment is if anything even more focussed on “delivery” without the slightest regard for actual impact. What if we judged our feedback strictly by the observable effect it had on the recipient learners?

I have followed a lot of advice on feedback e.g. balancing positive and negative, stimulating discussion of it with both the tutor and peers; yet without much sign of impact. Any evidence of learners actually learning from it has been absent. Recently however I’ve come across two different cases where there has been something approaching success. I discuss the issue, the many signs of “no effect”, and these glimmers of hope.

Changing the Way We Provide Feedback
Russell Stannard, University of Warwick

In 2006, Russell Stannard experimented with using screen capture software for providing feedback to students. The idea received widespread media interest. Screen capture allows you to record the screen of your computer as if a video camera was pointing at it. The same technology can be used to correct students feedback by opening their work onto the screen, turning on the screen capture software and creating a “live” recording as the teacher corrects the students work. The resulting video can then be sent to the student.

Russell has travelled the globe presenting his work and there are now a whole range of different studies and experiments taking place using this idea. In this presentation Russell will talk about the idea and the issues that have been raised from his work as well as outline some of the studies that are taking place. His idea can provide a whole new direction in providing feedback to students and one that could have an important impact on teaching and learning in a whole range of contexts.

Feedback: What you can expect (2009) (Details)

“NUS has talked with students, Course Reps and students’ unions officers nationally to find out exactly what students want and feel that they should reasonably expect in terms of feedback.”

This consultation resulted in the following ten principles of good feedback, and the NUS Feedback Amnesty.

Ten Feedback Principles:

  1. Should be for learning, not just of learning
    Feedback should be primarily used as a learning tool and therefore positioned for learning rather than as a measure of learning.
  2. Should be a continuous process
    Rather than a one-off event after assessment, feedback should be part of continuous guided learning and an integral part of the learning experience.
  3. Should be timely
    Feedback should be provided in a timely manner, allowing students to apply it to future learning and assessments. This timeframe needs to be communicated to students.
  4. Should relate to clear criteria
    Objectives for assessment and grade criteria need to be clearly communicated to, and fully understood by, students. Subsequent feedback should be provided primarily in relation to this.
  5. Should be constructive
    If feedback is to be constructive it needs to be concise, focused and meaningful to feed-forward, highlighting what is going well and what can be improved.
  6. Should be legible and clear
    Feedback should be written in plain language so it can be easily understood by all students, enabling them to engage with it and support future learning.
  7. Should be provided on exams
    Exams make up a high proportion of assessment and students should receive feedback on how well they did and how they could improve for the next time.
  8. Should include self-assessment and peer-to-peer feedback
    Feedback from peers and self-assessment practices can play a powerful role in learning by encouraging reassessment of personal beliefs and interpretations.
  9. Should be accessible to all students
    Not all students are full-time, campus based and so universities should utilise different technologies to ensure all students have easy access to their feedback.
  10. Should be flexible and suited to students’ needs
    Students learn in different ways and therefore feedback is not ‘one size fits all’. Within reason students should be able to request feedback in various formats depending on their needs.

(NUS, 2009)

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