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worth reassuring students how much they can bene t from feedback in their later learning, and also in their future careers.
7. Manageable. There are two sides to this. From our point of view, designing and delivering feedback to students could easily consume all the time and energy we have - it is an endless task. But also, from students’ point of view, getting too much feedback can be overwhelming and result in them not being able to sort out the important points from the routine feedback, thereby reducing their opportunities to bene t from the feedback they need most. Quantity and quality need to be balanced sensitively for both them and us.
8. Developmental. Feedback should open doors, not close them. In this respect, we have to be particularly careful with the words we use when giving feedback to students. Clearly, words with such ‘ nal language’ implications as ‘weak’ or ‘poor’ cause irretrievable breakdowns in the communication between assessor and student. To a lesser extent, even positive words such as ‘excellent’ can cause problems when feedback on the next piece of work is only ‘very good’ - why wasn’t it excellent again? Students have a tendency to take the words personally as if they describe them rather than their piece of work, it is therefore important that we make a clear distinction. Therefore in all such cases it is better to praise exactly what was very good or excellent in more detail, providing a rationale matched to comments and marking rubrics if used rather than take the short cut of just using the adjectives themselves.
MAXIMISING LEARNING PAYOFF THROUGH FEEDBACK AND FEED-FORWARD
The following tactics aim to give you some practical ways in which you can increase the learning payoff associated with your feedback to students, and make appropriate use of dialogue and feed- forward rather than just comments on paper or on-screen.
1. Providing students with a list of feedback comments
given on a similar assignment prior to them submitting their own. You can then ask students, for example in a large- group session, to attempt to work out what kind of marks an essay with speci c comments might be awarded. This helps them to see the links between feedback comments and levels of achievement and can encourage them to be more receptive to critical comments on their own future work.
2. Use two-stage or multi-stage assignments. In this way students can submit a draft, or drafts, of their assignment prior to  nal submission so that students can feedforward what they have learned from the feedback received into their  nal submission, thereby encouraging students to engage with the feedback by providing opportunities for its use in succeeding interrelated stages of the assignment.
3. Letting students have feedback comments on their assignments prior to them receiving the actual mark. Encourage them to use the feedback comments to estimate what kind of mark they will receive. This could be then used as the basis of an individual or group dialogue on how marks or grades are worked out.
4. Focusing your comments on students’ work, not on their personalities. Comments need therefore to be about ‘their work’, rather than ‘them’. This is particularly important when feedback is critical.
5. Getting students to look back positively after receiving your feedback. For example, ask them to revisit their work and identify what were their most successful parts of the assignment, on the basis of having now read your feedback. Sometimes students are so busy reading and feeling depressed by the negative comments, that they fail to see that there are positive aspects too.
6. Asking students to respond selectively to your feedback on their assignments. This could for example include asking them to complete sentences such as:
+ ‘the part of the feedback that puzzled me most was...’
+ ‘the comment that rang most true for me was...’
+ ‘I don’t get what you mean when you say...’
+ ‘I would welcome some advice on...’
7. Asking students to send you an email after they have received your feedback, focusing on their feelings. In particular, this might help you to understand what emotional impact your feedback is having on individual students. It can be useful to give them a menu of words and phrases to underline or ring, for example including: exhilarated, very pleased, miserable, shocked, surprised, encouraged, disappointed, helped, daunted, relieved (and so on). This sort of feedback to you can help you adjust how you give feedback to students next time.
8. Inviting students to tell you what they would like you to stop doing, start doing, and continue doing in relation
to the feedback you give them. This is likely to help you to understand which parts of your feedback are helpful to speci c students, as well as giving them ownership of the aspects of feedback that they would like you to include next time.
9. Noticing the difference. Comment positively where you can see that students have incorporated action resulting from your advice given on their previous assignment. This will encourage them to see the learning and assessment processes as properly integrated.
Want to know more about self-ef cacy? See:
Dweck, C. S. (2000) Self Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development, Lillington, NC: Taylor & Francis. Want to read more about rubrics for assessment? See: Gough, J. (2006) Rubrics in assessment, Vinculum, 43(1), p.8.
42 IN AT THE DEEP END | LEARNING + TEACHING academy
Want to read more about assessment generally? See:
Brown, S. and Race, P. (2012) Using effective assessment to promote learning, in Hunt, Land Chalmers,
D. University Teaching in Focus: a learning-centred approach, Victoria, Australia, Acer Press, and Abingdon: Routledge.


































































































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