Course 3, Week 1: Meaningful Feedback

Course 3 is an introduction to the importance of feedback as an active process, rather than a passive process.

I really enjoyed course 3, reminding me of my previous teaching role in which I had responsibility for 11-19 quality, assessments and feedback. I was able to become more involved in these two weeks, with a clearer link to current practice.

What is feedback?

5 definition were provided from 1983 to 2015, presenting the journey of feedback within teaching practice.

In a way, feedback has always been seen as something an educator gives with anticipated response of progression from the reciever. What we actually see in education is that feedback can often be a passive action. This could be due to poor quality of feedback, lack of understanding of feedback, no actions or support on how to progress, etc.

Wiggins (2012) provide Seven Keys to Effective Feedback:

  1. Goal-referenced
  2. Tangible and Transparent
  3. Actionable
  4. User-Friendly
  5. Timely
  6. Ongoing
  7. Consistent

The feedback culture

From a student perspective, we are introduced to how feedback is not only important for progression, but also for simple recognition of work completed. Assignments are time-consuming, involve hard work and application of learning – the final piece should therefore recognised as evidence of hardwork. From an educators perpsective, there is always the immediete workload of providing effective comments. As classes grow in HE, the time taken to complete marking and feedback activities grow and so do the pressures of managing this. However, the immediete work often overshadows the longterm benefits and time-saved later in the term/stage/course.

One method often used in 11-19, which I have found evidence of in HE, is ‘comment buckets’. There are different ways these can be employed and I feel a more transparent approach as mentioned in the screenshot for FE marking below is the better of the two. Using comment buckets to support a copy/paste activity for online feedback is not transparent and often the comments are not clear to receivers when standing alone from the assessment criteria.

To change the way feedback is perceived by educators and students, to promote a continuous dialogue around progression and development, the way feedback is given and received needs to shift.

Promoting the new paradigm, where feedback is an ongoing , students and educators become engaged in a process which creates independent student learners, who can reflect on their own work and set actions development.¬† The end goal is to reach the higher level of self-regulation –

Feedback design

Above, I provided the 7 principles of effective feedback of Wiggins (2012). In addition, the course offers the below as standards for providing feedback:

Self and Peer Assessment

When I was first introduced to self and peer assessment when working in a school prior to my first teaching qualification, self/peer-assessment was described as a ‘teacher’s cheat’ to marking. The way it was used was poor and more as a box-ticking exercise to show books had been marked in the correct coloured pens.

What I learnt early on was assessment and feedback is only as effective as the facilitator. I began sitting with students at the above school, working on how to give and use feedback to improve. When training to teach, assessment and feedback became one of the most important areas for me to work on and improve, knowing that the work I put in early would pay off in dividends. Self and peer assessment became a learning activity in itself and students became experts in marking, even daring to question my own in comparison to their knowledge and abilities in assessing – that in my mind was a win, students were able to self and peer assess using an assessment criteria with confidence.

This is no different in HE. Assessment and feedback is only as effective as the facilitator. Self and peer assessment is only possible when the students are trained how to assess, engage with the assessment process and clearly see the benefits of their engagement. My own thoughts are then reinforced with the online course development:

Analysing our own feedback

If feedback is a reflective tool for students, so it should be for educators. I was impressed with the courses inclusion of assessing our own marking and feedback practices.

The Feedback Profiling Tool developed by … was offered as a place to begin reviewing feedback practices. The tool is separated into 5 categories:

  1. Praise and progress
  2. Critique
  3. Advice
  4. Queries and questions
  5. Unclassified (does not fit into above categories)

Looking at the full document offered (Feedback_profiling_tool), this criteria is not much different from the WWW, EBI, Action and DIRT exercises used in 11-18. However, this tool is to be used to weight our feedback, how much is given to praise, critique and advice. It is to ensure we are trying to balance our feedback practice, meeting the principles of effective/good feedback.

Finishing thoughts

This was a really interesting week.

On reflection, I feel like I can see myself reacting to the content of the course according to my previous experiences and knowledge, as well as the way the information is presented. A realisation for me has been how online learning needs to be planned very meticulously, as there is little f2f to read reactions and understanding. This is done well for the most part of this PGCAPHE and I feel like our feedback has been used to improve the layout and activities of the online course.

Thinking on assessment and feedback, I feel again that much of what was presented is a standard of 11-19 teaching, but has been transferred and moulded to HE. I feel confident with my own abilities in feedback and my abilities to facilitate reflection through in-class activities. Unfortunately, any change for Personal Tutoring is minimal as much would be in relation to our optional workshops. I would like to use what I have learnt this week to improve verbal feedback and for updating Learning Plans, using the profiling tool as a structure.


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