A continuation of the Coffee Course written as part of ANUOnline’s Coffee Course Professional Development Series, by Olga Kozar and Geraldine Timmins, originally published on 28 August, 2018.

We plan to run a second face-to-face practical workshop in November. Check in with Teche Events in the coming days for details.


‘Teach a man person to fish, and you’ll feed him them for the lifetime’.

* Adjusted to avoid a gender bias.

As discussed on Day 1, educators can’t and shouldn’t be the only (or even the main) source of feedback. There is growing evidence that self-evaluation and reflection have more long-term benefits than external (educator or even peer) feedback (Boud & Falchikov, 2007; Li, Liu, & Steckelberg, 2010), as these practices empower students to take ownership of their feedback processes and increase their confidence. In other words, we want the students to get into the ‘feedback driving seat’, rather than the ‘passenger seat’.

In Day 4 we discussed practical strategies to help improve student Assessment Literacy. Today we’d like to continue by suggesting more strategies to support students in becoming less reliant on external feedback. As always, feel free to add your ideas and perspectives!


Encourage students to predict feedback

Some reasons why many students (and people in general) may not trust their judgements is (i) not practicing making judgements and (ii) not having enough evidence that their judgements align with those of experts.

One strategy to give students these experiences is to encourage students to predict what feedback they will get for their work. This strategy combines ‘self-assessment’ with working closely with the assessment criteria, and has multiple benefits for reducing potential emotional backlash (discussed in Day 2), and improving Assessment Literacy.

For example, you could have students write feedback predictions based on the assessment criteria and submit them along with their assignments. It’s important to acknowledge good predictions and provide more information to those students whose predictions were off the mark.


Ask questions that encourage self-regulation

Image: By Casey Horner, Unsplash.com

Ideally, we want students to self-monitor, self-direct and self-regulate their learning. It takes time to build these skills, and being asked the appropriate guiding questions before, during and after the assignment can help.

For example, it may be helpful to create a ‘self-checklist’ of assessment behaviours for students, and/or take every opportunity to ask guiding questions about assignment preparation during tutorials, lectures or in one-to-one conversations with students.

Here are some examples – and we’d be grateful if you could share your questions with the community in the comments section.

  • How clear is the task to you and how well did you ask for clarifications when needed?
  • Who can you ask for assistance if needed?
  • How did you plan your assignment, and what could you have done differently?
  • Is your approach to the task similar to other students? What is similar and what is different about your approach?
  • What did you try to achieve with this this work? Where did you get this expectation from? In retrospect, could you have used other standards? If so, what?
  • What ‘growth’ areas have you identified while doing this work?
  • What would you change if you were to do this piece of work again?

question markPractical Activity

We’d like to conclude this Feedback course with a practical activity. Below are some example of less and more useful feedback comments. The more useful comments include more information, which, as mentioned in Day 4, could be easier to manage via audio or video. However, these examples are not perfect, and we encourage you to build on them and think of even better ways to provide feedback!

Have a go at giving some example feedback for each grade in the comments section.

Less useful More useful Your version (add in the comments section)
Distinction – This assignment is of acceptable quality, however, its literature review and discussion could be strengthened. What an engaging and interesting work, Michael. I really enjoyed reading it. A couple of things could help you get a high distinction in the future:

(1) Approach the literature review differently: when writing a literature review, instead of just listing the studies, try to ‘tell a story’ about your topic and

(2) A deeper discussion: instead of reiterating your key findings at the end of the paper, ask yourself, ‘So what? I found…’, what does that mean and how does that relate to the literature review and my questions? Does it align with them or have you found anything new? What implications do your findings have?

Credit – This assignment is too broad and lacks critical thinking. It’s great that you researched the topic so widely, Maria. However, enumerating as many points associated with the topic as possible is not what was required for this assignment. It is usually valued more if you go for depth rather than breadth. In other words, focus on 1-2 main issues, and really get to the bottom of them (= depth) instead of listing a lot of different issues (= quantity/breadth). For example, the work could have focused on X and Y topic or area and discussed how…………instead of listing all of the issues.
Fail – This work does not meet the required criteria. There are numerous problems with the content, as well as the language. Anthony, on this occasion the assignment is yet to meet the required criteria. Your input in class discussions demonstrated you were understanding the key concepts, but if there were time factors involved I would suggest taking more time on assignments in future. Here is a link to Time Management tips: Learning Skills Support unit StudyWise’s tips (Macquarie University only). In the future, start working on your assignments earlier, ask for your tutor’s feedback and take advantage of the Learning Skills support. I feel you have the potential to produce a good assignment. You may need to prioritise and start earlier.

Thank you for joining us for this course!

Posted by Olga Kozar

I'm a 'long-term' Mq girl. I did my PhD here and taught different courses, ranging from undergrad to PhD students. I then joined the Learning Innovation Hub, which I love. I'm passionate about good learning and teaching. Give me a shout if I can assist you in any way.

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