Oh crumbs, end of session is approaching!

Over the next few weeks, not only will you be managing marking obligations, with other workload, but you will also be giving feedback to students on their performance throughout the session and final exams.

Recent research at Macquarie showed that student’s future performance can be improved through effective formative feedback, that goes beyond justifying grades. Feedback is only efficient, however,  if it’s communicated and presented appropriately.

As an educator and Mum I understand how important it is to package a message in the right way. When I’m trying to get my 2 year old to eat his veggies, I need to cut them up into palatable bite size pieces and as I ask him to try it, I explain why it’s good for him. I know he’s more likely to accept and eat his greens if presented to him this way.  I’m not saying you should treat students like 2 year olds, but it’s all about delivery.  There are ways and strategies to make feedback more palatable and appealing for students to read and receive.

Macquarie’s study results suggest feedback should be: personalised, constructive, future-focused and aligned.

Effective formative feedback infographic

For written feedback, it is suggested you write a (minimum) 4-sentence final summary in the following format:

  1. Start with the student’s name and positively affirm the best aspect(s) of the assignment/assessment.
  2. Phrase specific criticism in positive tones (e.g. as a question)
  3. Provide a concrete suggestion and/or an example (if necessary repeat steps 2-3 but limit to maximum of 4 issues)
  4. Final words of encouragement and/or high level advice

Click here for examples.

Upon receiving feedback, students should be able to carefully assess how the feedback aligns with the unit learning outcomes and how it can be used to improve futurestudy and workplace performance.

Have a look at this resource for 10 strategies to engage students with feedback. My main take-aways:

  • Ask students to assess their progression themselves (more often than not students will come to the same conclusion as you did when you gave them that mark), and/or have a conversation about their work withthem.
  • Build activities that build on feedback, e.g. a) devise a Future Action Plan: ‘What can I do better next time?’ and make them write it down, b) pair up students and let them discuss how they can improve their individual or group work c) allow resubmission that incorporates feedback. The SNOB (Strengths, Needs, Opportunities, Barriers) approach by University of Salford, UK,  is a great tool to guide student reflection. Again, I see a valuable learning activity in here!
  • Turn FeedBACK into FeedFORWARD. Help your students develop an action plan with achievable objectives. Voilà!
  • Don’t assume that students know what to do with feedback. Phil Race makes a few good suggestions on how to get students engaged with feedback.
  • Give voice to feedback  – why not record your feedback, it may actually save you time! Try Turnitin’s Feedback Studio recording feature.

You can find more on Feedback Guidelines for Staff and Students on Macquarie’s Teach webpages.

Next week: How to manage your marking workload!

Posted by Lilia Mantai

Lilia's PhD was on the role of social support in the development of researcher identities in the PhD. She is a Higher Ed professional, passionate about education, research, and providing support to staff and students.

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