Thursday, January 29, 2015

Talking sense about feedback - don't change the feedback, change the students

Pigeon Once again, Graham Gibbs latest post on feedback on the SEDA blog makes so much sense it's impossible not to share it (Making feedback work involves more than giving feedback). A few choice quotes to persuade you to go and read it:

Successful students make quite different use of feedback than unsuccessful students and one approach to making feedback more effective is to simply change average and weak students’ habits so that they use feedback as successful students do.

One of the reasons some students read and pay attention to feedback, while others don’t, is not that some are ‘assessment literate’ while others are not, but that some do not see the point: it does not help them achieve what they want to achieve. Idea No. 1 outlined the different orientations students have been found to display. They want to achieve different things and they pay attention to different things as a consequence. If all a student is interested in is passing or progression to the next stage, then actually learning about the subject matter from feedback may not be on their agenda, especially if the course is almost over or there is no follow-up course that builds on the subject matter. Changing students’ orientation is not at all easy but it is possible to make it difficult for students to pass unless they engage seriously with the course, whether they like it or not. It is also possible to make it easy for students to ignore the teacher’s agenda and still pass, and many courses and their assessment regimes achieve this dubious distinction. Teachers may bemoan how instrumental students have become, but they also often collude to make instrumentalism quite a successful strategy, in order to avoid too many students failing.

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