This week’s article has been written with Dr Alex Buckley of the Learning and Teaching Academy.
This week’s topic – feedback.
The challenge this semester
Managing the workload of marking and feedback can be difficult at the best of times. With the additional challenge of getting to grips with teaching online, and with extra coursework for those courses which have moved away from exams, the task this year is even greater.
Can we speed up the feedback process without sacrificing the usefulness of feedback to students? It is important to try; feedback is one of the most effective ways of helping students to learn, but it is also one of the most time-consuming.
If you find yourself repeating the same kinds of comments, if students tend to make the same mistakes, if students often benefit from the same kind of suggestions, then it might be worth building up a bank of statements that can you can copy-and-paste into feedback. The Quickmark function within Turnitin facilitates this. Your set of common feedback statements could also be turned into a resource that you give to future students before they do the assessment, as a form of ‘feedforward’.
Giving students feedback as a group, commenting on common strengths and weaknesses, can be a particularly efficient form of feedback. This can give you the space to provide more detail about shared issues, extra examples, further reading suggestions etc. It can be provided alongside any specific individual feedback students require.
A developmental tone
Feedback should be constructive and encouraging, and build students’ confidence. Rather than phrases with a tone of finality (“your analysis was poor because X”) try using phrases that look forward (“you could improve your analysis next by doing Y”).
Efficiency of feedback is not only about streamlining the process of producing it - it’s also about making sure that students act on it. If you’re going to spend precious time writing feedback, it’s worth spending some time helping students to engage with it.
We can often fall into the trap of thinking that students must know how to act on feedback, but it is not always obvious. If we want students to think of feedback as advice to help them improve their work, rather than just a justification of the mark, we may need to explicitly discuss with them the purpose and value of feedback.
Where can I get more ideas?
These suggestions come from the Learning and Teaching Academy’s resources about how to improve the feedback process. Dr Alex Buckley of the LTA has collated a range of ideas about speeding up feedback, and maximising its impact. Alex will be running a webinar on efficient feedback on Monday 2 November, 9am (UK) / 1pm (Dubai) / 5pm (Malaysia). To book please visit libcal.