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Getting Vocal About Feedback

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Presentation delivered by Malcolm Mactavish, University of Abertay Dundee, at the 2011 e-Assessment Scotland conference.

Presentation delivered by Malcolm Mactavish, University of Abertay Dundee, at the 2011 e-Assessment Scotland conference.

Published in: Education, Technology

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  • 1. Getting Vocal About Feedback Malcolm Mactavish School of Computing & Engineering Systems Abertay University [email_address]
  • 2.
    • The Problem:
        • Large classes submitting complex assessments (mainly practical coursework)
        • Desire to optimise student performance
  • 3.
    • Ideally:
        • Set milestones through the project …
        • … review student progress at each …
        • … and provide formative feedback
        • Students take account of feedback to reinforce early work …
        • … resulting in improved final submissions
  • 4.
    • The Problem:
        • Feedback is necessary
        • Don't have enough time to give all the feedback I want
  • 5.
    • The Result:
        • Weaker students submit poor work and get poor grades …
        • … if they submit anything at all !
  • 6.
    • A Solution?
        • Reduce time spent on feedback by recording comments rather than writing them
  • 7.
    • Trial run over three sessions, and using three different systems:
        • Email attachment
        • Email with link to file
        • Email with link to file + PIN number
  • 8.
    • Email Attachment:
        • Great for small files …
        • … but larger files might exceed any maximum size for attachments
  • 9.
    • Email With Link (URL) To File:
        • audio file is saved on a web server
        • an email is created
        • email contains a link to the student's audio file
        • other students can 'hack' their own link to retrieve other students' files
  • 10.
    • Email With Link To File + PIN number:
        • audio files are stored in a 'secret' location
        • system creates the email as before
        • BUT also generates a random four-digit number
        • student follows the link and enters their PIN
  • 11.
    • Email With Link To File + PIN number:
        • the student's download can be detected and recorded …
        • … so that take-up can be monitored and gauged
  • 12.
    • Results?
        • Feedback for good students takes very little time to record …
        • … leaving more time to devote to weaker students …
  • 13.
    • Results?
        • … we can give more feedback overall than we could be writing it out …
        • … and, for example, vocal inflection helps us place more emphasis on important areas
  • 14.
    • Results?
        • Students almost universally in favour
        • Perhaps predictably, the better students more likely to retrieve feedback …
        • … much of the extended feedback to weaker students went unheard.
        • However, tracking of downloads allowed follow-up with these students
  • 15.
    • Results?
        • UAD grading scale is 0-20
          • grades 0-3 are irretrievable fails
          • 6-8 are Marginal Fails
          • 9-11 are 'pass by skin of teeth'
  • 16.
    • Results?
        • With audio feedback,
          • no improvement on irretrievable fails
          • fewer marginal fails
          • average improvement of 2 points in the bands 6-14
  • 17.
    • Potential Elephant Traps:
        • Once you've said something, you've said it
        • To revise your feedback could mean re-recording from scratch
        • You may regret some or all of the following …
  • 18.
    • Potential Elephant Traps:
        • You may regret what you thought were …
          • innocent, ad hoc remarks
          • comments that you think are constructive but which the students views otherwise
  • 19.
    • Potential Elephant Traps:
        • You may regret what you thought were …
          • comments intended within the context of a particular assignment …
          • … but the student interprets within a wider context
  • 20.
    • Potential Elephant Traps:
        • You may regret what you thought were …
          • comments intended to show the student an effective approach …
          • … while the student thinks you're clearly wrong because they know a 'better' way
  • 21.
    • However …
        • Don't we get these very same problems with written feedback?
  • 22.
    • Important End Note:
    • Following a subsequent policy decision, all work had to be given written feedback
    • No scope to provide both written and audio feedback
    • Grades fell back – roughly to pre-audio levels