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Rethinking student feedback

Rethinking student feedback



Student feedback is a hot topic in higher education, with students demanding more of it, quicker. This session discusses a project that attempted to define the concept of feedback from both a student ...

Student feedback is a hot topic in higher education, with students demanding more of it, quicker. This session discusses a project that attempted to define the concept of feedback from both a student and faculty perspective and then develop workflows and possible extensions to Blackboard to improve the creation, delivery and learning from feedback.



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  • Student feedback is a hot topic in higher education, with students demanding more of it, quicker. This session discusses a project that attempted to define the concept of feedback from both a student and faculty perspective and then develop workflows and possible extensions to Blackboard to improve the creation, delivery and learning from feedback.
  • Essentially students focused on end-point. Surface learners, note grade and move on. Tend to ignore feedback.
  • Note – the student satisfaction figures are fake
  • I admit, stereotyping a bit here
  • Butler D.l. & Winne P.H. (1995) “Feedback and Self-Regulated Learning: A Theoretical Synthesis” Review of Educational Research 65 (3) pp 245-281
  • Hartley, J. & Chesworth, K. (2000) Qualitative and quantitative methods in research on essaywriting: no one way, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 24(1), 15–24. – study of 102 Psychology students at KeeleCoursework is largely summatively assessed, formative squeezed out…
  • Weaver, M.R. (2006). ‘Do Students value feedback? Student perceptions of tutors’ written response’ in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 31 (3), 379-394.
  • Grant Ingram used a Wacom Bamboo tablet (other tablets are available) and Xournal note taking software – see http://xournal.sourceforge.net/Trust – detailed feedback, students believed that their work really had been scrutinised- less challenges?
  • Also easy to make/take multiple copies, e.g. for audit
  • Grant concludes: Overall I am quite enthusiastic about the approach largely because I think the students willappreciate the quality of the output and the lack of envelopes and paper to cart around.
  • Beginning the conversation early…
  • Not everyone leaves things to the last minute. No corelation between submission time and plagiarism matches. Still working on final marks!
  • Walk the user through the steps…
  • All good and well, but this encourages offline marking.
  • Not yet in production either. Available for licensing by Blackboard Mobile – contact my agent 
  • Genuine list from a third year history student. Could we develop a feedback portal? Students want to be able to interact and filter the data just like instructors do with the Grade Center…
  • Note this is just a conceptual mock-up. Predicted Grade Calculator? Set aims? Peer Comparison, Tasks – self and tutor, etc. etc.
  • Excuse the punHiggins, R., Hartley, P. & Skelton, A. (2001). Getting the message across: the problem of communicating assessment feedback. Teaching in Higher Education, 6(2), 269–74.
  • The last point is the most important, and possibly the hardest to answer. Staff may be constrained by the ways they have learnt to use feedback, probably stemming from a paper-based system they themselves experienced.

Rethinking student feedback Rethinking student feedback Presentation Transcript

  • RethinkingStudent Feedback
    13th July 2011 3:00 pm Venetian Congress Center - Titian 2206
    Dr Malcolm MurrayDurham University, UK
  • Acknowledgement
    Much of this presentation draws on conversations with and research by my colleagues Janet Lavery and Judith Jurowska
  • Slides freely available
  • Recorded Delivery
  • Session Plan
    Perceptions of Students
    Why give feedback?
    What we’ve tried
    What staff want
    What students want
    What next?
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/rightreading/1243239706/sizes/m/in/photostream/
    Perceptions of Students
  • Student as Consumer
    Ham KhanTimes Higher Educational Supplement14th December 2007
  • Education by Numbers
  • Student as Participant
    in anAcademicCommunityof Practice
  • Implications
    Focus on the end result
    Never look back
    Learning the rules
    Want to gain acceptance
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/fin5bjh/4442706561/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    Why Feedback?
  • Five Functions of Feedback
    Learners can use feedback to:
    add to
    information in their memory
    Butler & Winne (1995)
  • Feedback is a Dialogue
    Feedback on assessment whether formative or summative is a personal dialogue between a lecturer and a student about the student’s assessment and aspirations.
    It is not necessarily a face-to-face discussion, but it is a dialogue.
    Janet Lavery
  • Feedback is about improvement
    “Feedback that does not tell you how to improve is pointless” said one of the students in a focus group to the roar of approval from the other students.
    For improvement to occur feedback has to be personal, i.e. in context of the specific assessment, identify strengths and weakness in the assessment, and provide insights into how the student can improve in time for the next assessment.
    Janet Lavery
  • Laurillard’s Conversational Framework
  • Effect of Modularization
    of students responded that feedback was given too late to be helpful, as they got it after the end of the module
    Hartley & Chesworth (2000)
  • Speaking Different Languages
    “students who do not yet share a similar understanding of academic discourse as the tutor would… …have difficulty in understanding and using the feedback”
    Melanie Weaver (2006)
  • Feedback by Larson
  • What we have tried
  • Tablet Annotation
  • Tablets: Good Points
    • Novelty makes the process more fun
    • Don't have to fiddle with envelopes
    • Admin processing time is significantlyreduced
    • You can type comments on the work as well so you don’t have to write the same thing out again and again
    • Rubbing out your writing is easy
    • The output looks quite professional
    Dr Grant Ingram
    School of Engineering & Computer Sciences
  • Tablets: Down Side
    • Size of tablet - small movements are required and writing in the margins is tricky
    • Zooming needed to get good quality handwriting - makes getting an overview of the work harder
    • The quality of your handwriting is much poorer than with an ordinary pen
    • A great deal of electronic fiddling: concatenating the marking matrix, naming the PDF files correctly, converting from Word format for students who don't follow instructions and so on.
    • The marking time is comparable to doing it with an ink pen
  • Inline Annotation: Grademark
  • Rubric Deployed
  • Dr Steve LyonAnthropology
    “…when we started doing this [on paper] we had students coming and saying, “I got lots of comments and so and so only got two little lines.”
    I wanted somehow to, not impose, but encourage a more consistent amount of feedback for everyone and ensure similar things were being flagged up.”
  • Staff Feedback
    Fatigue is less of an issue… The twentieth bad essay no longer invokes lots of exclamation marks, ‘What is this!’
    The ‘marking rubric’… helps automate the process of allocating marks against set criteria. This was particularly helpful to the teaching assistants.
    Lyon, Steve. “Making the grade: Helping postgraduate teaching assistants with their marking and feedback..” QED (Durham University)2008.
  • Student Feedback
    • The student gets at least six comments even if the postgraduate marker [is] less confident…
    • Students really like it especially as I give them the rubric before the assignment so they know what they are working to.
    • Students like being able to get the feedback online.
    • They get more feedback … the essays will be riddled with these little comments that are specific to a paragraph
  • Audio Feedback
    Prof Ian GreenerSchool of Applied Social Sciences
    Quicker than typing
    More effective
    Students pay attention
    Tone of voice / inflection
    Personal - Allows you to talk direct to student work
    Upload process is complicated
  • Student Voice
    “it’s not face to face but it’s certainly one to one”
    I think this is a much better system than paper feedback.  I know I got a lot more from it than if you had just had to tick boxes and given me a comment in that little box on the piece of paper.
  • Katherine Griffiths
    Alia Moser
    German Department
    School of Modern Languages
    1:1 Feedback using Blogs
    • Language students given weekly homework tasks using a blog
    • Staff edit the posts, marking mistakes in red and any corrections in green.
    • Students are invited to correct their mistakes in blue(crossing out the original mistakes, but not deleting them) and to look at the rest of the corrections
    • Thanks to the colour code, staff can then quickly check whether the students have accurately corrected their mistakes
  • Sample Feedback: Blogs
  • Staff Rationale
    “the previous year I was disappointed because students were doing their translations uncritically, without thinking or looking at the feedback.”
    Alia Moser
    “With the blog you have the work and feedback online and we can look back and say, “Look, we have mentioned adjective endings before, so why is it still going wrong?” Students can look back at areas where they did well or were weak. This helps build confidence. It was important to make them feel we had a record they could be proud of.”
    Katherine Griffiths
  • Peer Feedback: Blogs
    It ensures corrections are completed and
    are easily re-marked – cuts out time, and
    if this had been hand written +
    marked, I would probably put it straight in my
    file without bothering with corrections!
  • Student Feedback: Blogs
    I prefer posting my written work on the blog to handing in handwritten work because of its positive effect on my learning.
    The opportunity to be able to go back for amendments and revision is important for me.
    I can learn from reading my peers’ work and the tutor’s feedback on their work.
    I am happy for my peers to comment on my work.
    80%of students agreed
  • Understanding how Students work
  • Summary of findings
  • Feedback – staff
    Find simpler means to development and deliver feedback online
    The current mechanisms for developing and delivering digital feedback (text, audio, etc…) are according to many staff: “inefficient”, “require too many steps”, and generally too difficult.
    Staff want access to sophisticated feedback generation tools that are easy to use and provide simple delivery mechanisms.
  • Feedback - students
    Praise for feedback limited to that ‘like school’ or ‘what we are used to’.
    More unhappiness then happiness with the actual content of feedback.
    Enthusiastic about receiving feedback developed using new technologies such as audio recordings or digital mark-up systems.
    Students very happy with their current feedback were noticeably less enthusiastic about the possibility of new technologies – prefer handwritten comments on a copy of the essays and face-to-face discussions.
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/techsavi/3946238357/sizes/o/in/photostream/
    Next Steps
  • Potential Feedback Tool
  • Complications – Naming Policy
  • Choice: Feedback Format
  • Simplifying Download
  • Simplifying Mark Entry
  • Simplifying Upload
  • Mobile Marking
  • My Grades
    2/10 Blackboard
    -Must try harder…
  • Feedback Dashboard
  • Simple, but Consistent
    Look at the processes for submission & feedback
    Push for standardization
    in the lecturer’s experience
    in the student’s experience
  • Conclusion
  • Rubric cubism (sorry)
    feedback [is] an essentially problematic form of communication involving particular social relationships…
    …external conditions interplay, mediate (and are mediated by) patterns of power, authority, emotion and identity
    Higgins, Hartley & Skelton (2001)
  • Findings so far…
    Creative ways exist for staff & peers to provide feedback
    Most have ugly workflows, discouraging wider adoption
    No one-size fits all – (5 purposes of feedback)
    Need to make things better without breaking those that already work
    Electronic delivery can make feedback more visible, thus more likely to result in learning
    Must provide/promote timely feedback
    We need to learn how our students could use feedback to feed forward…
  • Please provide feedback for this session by emailingBbWorldFeedback@blackboard.com.
    The title of this session is:
    Rethinking Student Feedback
  • Get in touch: