Perceptions of Feedback: Myth & Reality Jon Scott School ofBiological Sciences
Some of the Issues• What‟s the fuss about?• What is feedback?• A common understanding?• The module effect• Expectations• Utility & Utilisation
Learning how to eat Smarties…• Active engagement• Rewards• Common view of success and its measurement• Feedback shows what is OK and what needs changing for next time• Review of original performance in the light of feedback
Feedback Projects• Seeing Eye to Eye: Comparing the Perceptions of Students & Staff• „Quick Wins‟ Campaign• Peer Observation of Feedback• Departmental Guidance• Student Engagement with Feedback
„Seeing Eye to Eye‟ - Context• 85 1st year students on Biological Sciences programme• 1st semester assessments – Weekly practical report (from day 10), 5 day turn- round – Weekly tutorials - 3 essays (3 week turn-round), 1 oral presentation• Feedback cover sheet – Strengths – Areas for improvement
Methods• On-line Questionnaire – based on Gibbs‟ Assessment Experience Questionnaire – posted early in semester 2• Response rate: 57 % yr 1 54% yr 2• 1st year Focus Groups• Structured interviews with academic staff
Student Participants• Questionnaire – 57% of yr group• Focus Groups – 25% of yr group 50 Percentage of Total 40 30 20 10 0 First 2.1 2.2 3/A Pass Fail Degree Class Questionnaire Focus Group
Staff Participants• 14 Module Convenors• 7 Personal Tutors (non 1st yr teachers)• 1 Student Learning Centre Advisor
Perceptions of Feedback Types Received (Focus Group)• Unprompted: – Comments on cover sheets• Prompted: – Comments on oral presentations – Annotations on scripts• Specifically asked: – Verbal feedback in practical classes, tutorials & personal tutors
Types of Feedback Given (Staff)• Written feedback – cover sheets & annotations• “They are probably less aware of the direct help they get by talking to people in lab classes, I think”,• “… interactions are the most useful in terms of students‟ appreciation of things like concepts that you are trying to explain. I think just the nature of handling the number of students in 1st year practicals means we can‟t give immediate feedback in terms of what the correct answer was but concepts, approach and understanding the bigger picture, they should leave with that as feedback”.
Quantity of FeedbackOn this course I get plenty of 67%feedback in how I am doingThe feedback is usually too 35%uninformative or brief to behelpfulThe more feedback I receive, 89%the more I learn
Quality of FeedbackThe feedback uses language 87%that is easy to understandThe feedback shows me how to 73%do better next timeI can seldom see from the 35%feedback what I need to do toimproveThe feedback does not help me 11%with subsequent assignments
Quality & Utility of Feedback• “Sometimes the comments are helpful but sometimes it‟s comments like when you get say 60% in a practical report and they tell you it could be „better written‟. But you‟ve done all that you can to write it to the best of your ability, so it‟s kind of vague, I don‟t know where to improve”.• “One of my friends had a higher mark than me and she got more comments than me in the „places to improve‟. I had nothing and was like „well I need to improve and you don‟t so why have you got the comments?‟. That‟s what I was thinking”.
Quality & Utility of Feedback• “I got one write up which was 90% and she [the marker] was still like „you could improve it here or here‟. It was quite a lot of comments considering it was a high mark and it was really good because it was „ok, that‟s what I need to be doing”.
Timing of FeedbackIt doesn‟t matter if a module has 51%finished before I receive feedbackas I know the advice will berelevant to my new moduleThe feedback usually comes back 56%promptlyWhatever feedback I receive comes 15%back too late to be useful
Timing of Feedback• “…all that depends on the marker. This time we‟ve had one who was sometimes taking two weeks to get the reports back. Another one has got them back on the Tuesday, having had them on the Wednesday before. So it depends really on who you‟ve got.”
Utilisation of FeedbackI have received clear and sufficient guidance on 42%how to understand and use feedbackI read the feedback carefully and try to understand 71%what is being saidI use the feedback to go back over what I have 55%done in the assignmentI have good intentions to act on feedback I receive 29%but forget suggestions for improvement next time Ido courseworkI do not use the feedback when revising 31%I tend to only read the marks 9%
Utilisation of Feedback• “A lot of the time it‟ll depend on the mark as to how much I do look at it [the feedback]. If I‟ve got a really high mark, I‟ll tend to look and think „oh I‟ve done well‟ and just put it away. If I‟ve got a really bad mark I‟ll look and think what I‟ve done wrong, why I got that mark”• “If I expect a mark, low or high, and it‟s that, I don‟t really read the comments. If I get a mark that‟s really different from what I expected then I‟ll really read the comments”.
Students‟ Reflections on Staff Views• They probably think we don‟t read it and just put it to one side.”• “I‟m sure some of them think they‟re just doing it and it‟s a bit pointless and you‟re not going to look at it anyway.”• “I suppose some of them [markers] must hope that if they bother to write something down then it gets read. But they must accept that there‟s a great deal of variation between students”.
Staff Views• “I suspect it varies, some will read it all and come to see you to ask what it means. Others, I suspect, only read the marks and check there is not too much red ink….I think if the number reflects what they are expecting then they don‟t pay too much attention to it.”• “My experience is that feedback is definitely used, it‟s a very constructive thing, a useful thing and a good proportion of students are using feedback.”
Issues & Actions• School vs University experience• Recognition of feedback• Consistency Timing Content & Structure• Utility „Feed forward‟ Encouraging engagement with feedback Language
Actions• „Quick Wins‟ Campaign• Peer Observation of Feedback• Departmental Guidance• Student Engagement with Feedback
Engaging Students with FeedbackWe asked students:• Name five types of feedbackyou receive on your work• What is the most useful pieceof feedback you have received?• Name one way in which youhave used feedback to improveyour learning
“Name five types of feedback you receive on your work” (top 10 answers) Number of appearances of answer 0 100 200 300 written comments on assignments verbal coursework marks/grades seminar/tutorial/workshop/problem… scheduled meetings or office hours… emailmarked exam/test paper/problem sheet from peers after presentations feedback cover sheet
% Respondents naming 5 different formats offeedback received Biological Sciences vs University Verbal Written Marks/grades Biol Sci University Email/onlineGroup feedback Peers 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 % Respondents
Formats of feedback by year group Verbal Written Marks/grades Final years Email/online 2nd years 1st yearsGroup feedback Peers Friendfeed 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 % Respondents
“What is the most useful piece of feedback you have received?” (top 10 answers) Appearance of answer as % of all answers 0 5 10 15 better structuring of assignments how to improve identify strengths and weaknesses advice on referencing critical feedback advice to read more be more clear/conciseadvised to re-read work before submitting breakdown of where marks were lostadvice to focus on answering the question
Ways in which feedback has been used Reflect on feedback when producing next… Improved writing skills Read more to improve understandingIdentify areas needed to study in more depth Improved referencing skills Biol Sci Feedback motivated me to Uni improve Read through work before sumission Learnt from mistakes Guided me on revising Improved presentation skills 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 % Respondents
Activities for next year include…• Standardised information on feedback in Course handbooks• Institutional guidelines on time taken for feedback to be received• Consistency in feedback• Keep up awareness of feedback as an issue – autumn term campaign working with the Students‟ Union• Repeat the Peer Observation of Marking exercise in 2012-13• Continuation of campaigns including: I love my academic