Monday, June 15, 2015

Common sense about feedback

Exam feedback

This paper takes a common sense approach to fixing "the feedback problem" - the stuff we all know is broken. Clue: It's not rocket science. Fixes needed include:
  • Aligning expectations (of staff & students, and between teams of markers)
  • Identifying all feedback available
  • Develop the student’s ability to self-assess
  • Draft-plus-rework - instead of the student simply producing a ‘finished’ product
  • Improve the linkage of assessment strategies across programmes and between modules/units
  • Ensure feedback is timely
  • Consider the role of marks – they obscure feedback
  • Reduce overemphasis on written feedback – oral can be more effective

All simple, logical and entirely correct. So here's the problem - we all know this, so why don't we do it? What is the structural problem that prevents the fix being implemented?

A scholarly approach to solving the feedback dilemma in practice. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 14 Jun 2015 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1052774
It is clear from the literature that feedback is potentially the most powerful and potent part of the assessment cycle when it comes to improving further student learning. However, for some time, there has been a growing amount of research evidence that much feedback practice does not fulfil this potential to influence future student learning because it fails in a host of different ways. This dilemma of the disjuncture between theory and practice has been increasingly highlighted by the UK National Student Survey results. This paper uses a model of the assessment process cycle to frame understandings drawn from the literature, and argues that the problem with much current practice resides largely in a failure to effectively engage students with feedback. The paper goes on to explore how best to effectively engage students with assessment feedback, with evidenced examples of feedback strategies that have successfully overcome this problem.

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