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There are social conventions, unwritten rules, around feedback in a formal education setting. Most students associate feedback as coming from the voice of authority in the form of red marks on a written script! It is important to redefine feedback for university and professional learners.

In this short overview video (3'30") Simon outlines four 'contractual' arrangements all faculty should establish at the outset of their course or module with respect to feedback for learning.

These are
1) ensuring that students know WHERE feedback is coming from
2) WHEN to expect feedback
3) WHAT you mean by feedback
4) WHAT to DO with the feedback when it's received.

  1. Feedback is undoubtedly expected from the tutor or instructor but there are numerous feedback channels available to students if only they are conscious of them. These include feedback from their peers but most important from self-assessment and learning activities designed in class.
  2. Knowing where feedback is coming from as part of the learning process relieves the pressure on the tutor and in effect makes feedback a constant 'loop', knowing what to look out for and possibly having students document the feedback they receive supports their metacognitive development.
  3. Being clear with students as to what you regard as feedback is an effective way of ensuring that students take ownership of their own learning. My own personal definition is extremely broad, from the feedback one receives in terms of follow-up comments for anything shared in an online environment to the nods and vocal agreement shared in class to things you say. These are all feedback. Knowing that also encourages participation!
  4. Suggesting to students what they do with feedback will depend a little bit on the nature of the course and the formal assessment processes. Students naturally enough don't do things for the sake of it so it has to be of discernable benefit to them. If there is some form of portfolio based coursework assessment you could ask for an annotated 'diary' on feedback received through the course. If its a course with strong professional interpersonal outcomes (like nursing or teaching for example) you might ask students to identify their favourite and least favourite piece of feedback they experienced during the course, with a commentary on how it affected their subsequent actions.

What's important is to recognise that there are social conventions around feedback in a formal education setting, normally associated with red marks on a written script! It is important to redefine feedback for university and professional learners.

Simon Paul Atkinson (PFHEA)
https://www.sijen.com
SIJEN: Consultancy for International Higher Education

Why is it that whenever we want to reward academic staff, the incentive is to "buy yourself out of teaching” and at the very least “offload some marking”. Of course the answer is often that the alternatives are to remove yourself from service or administration (and the place grinds to a halt) or, God Forbid, let up on the research outputs. So teaching it is that is the malleable element and assessment all the more so.

Shame. How do you really know if your teaching is effective if you don't see the results? How can you revise and improve your paper if you don;t complete that feedback loop for students?

Of course marking can be a fairly tedious process, even a favourite movie gets tiresome after the twentieth viewing, but it's a necessary process and anything that makes it a little easier has to be a good thing.

So I picked up this application here at Massey University called Lightwork. a development project led by Dr. Eva Heinrich, the desktop client intergrates with Moodle and its gradebook. Once 'paired' the Lightwork downloads student details and allows the creation of marking rubrics and assigned markers, these are then synchronised back to Moodle so the end result is that approved grades in Lightwork are uploaded into the gradebook along with a PDF of the completed marking rubric. Well worth a look. I confess I'm playing in a paper with only 10 students, but just the admin time saved not having to save feedback forms under different student names etc, must be worth it.

Screenshots of Lightwork Assessment Tool
Lightwork: Rubrics and Student PDF Feedback form generated in Moodle
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