CELebrate 2017: Exploring and utilising students’ perspectives on feedback: a mixed method, longitudinal approach

At the recently held CELebrate 2017 conference, Dr. Peter Hills, Kara Peterson, Simon Croker and Dr. Rachel Manning gave a presentation about psychology undergraduate students’ perspectives on assessment feedback. Participants came from all three undergraduate years and spanned a range of academic profiles. The research was longitudinal, from January 2013 to April 2014. A mixed method approach was adopted comprising peer-led semi structured interviews, focus groups and an online survey.

Key themes that resulted from the analysis of the different data sets resolved around Convenience, Continuing Dialogue and Consistency.  The following are some supporting quotes:

Convenience:

‘I just read the e-mail. I haven’t collected any of my feedback. I just use the emails and go from there. I think it should be easier to actually collect your essay.’

I never bother going to pick up my [feedback]…. when you go there you’re waiting in a queue to pick it up in a room’

Continuing Dialogue

‘Yeah I think [feedback] should be a lot more one on one…’

‘I think that [feedback] is helpful in a way but at the same time it just tells you what youve done wrong not where you can improve and that is a really big aspect that you have to kind of do better in the future rather  then making the same mistakes over and over again’

Consistency

‘[Feedback] is quite mixed, like you either get three pages full of things that you could’ve done better or you get a little blank box and something and sort of a few little hand annotations on the thing..’

‘[Feedback] should be standardised but obviously because of the topic it might vary what comments we’ll get written but I think if there was like a standard procedure for each topic then it might be a bit clearer…’

The issues raised by students were that:

  • Feedback too generalised
  • Specific and personalised feedback is more useful
  • Lack of specificity in how and what to improve
  • Doesn’t recognise progress or improvements that have been made
  • Confusion about who to talk to with questions about feedback

In response, a new reflection sheet was developed for students to fill out and paste to the end of their coursework which gives them a role in deciding what type of feedback you receive. It also enables students to highlight how they have used previous feedback on their work, what areas they have found difficult, and grade targets. It allows markers to give personalised feedback based on individual students’ coursework goals.

Details of these and other aspects of the project can be accessed through the following link:

Exploring and utilising students’ perspectives on feedback a mixed method, longitudinal approach

Dr Peter Hills can also be contacted here for more information about the research.

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