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Student Feedback via Audio Files Susi Peacock & Jim Sharp CAP What is it?

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Student Feedback

via Audio Files

Susi Peacock & Jim Sharp CAP

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What is it?

  • “Audio feedback can be defined as formative messages, recorded and distributed as digital audio to individual students or student groups in response to both ongoing and submitted work, allowing each student to develop their knowledge and the way they learn.” (Middleton, A. 2008)

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Student Voices

  • Student views on feedback delivered by audio file:


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Why is it worth exploring? - 1

QMU Student Survey 2008 - Feedback on assessments helps me improve at the next stage of the course?

=>>Only 21% of students were completely satisfied with the feedback they got. L

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Why is it worth exploring? - 2

QMU Student Survey 2008 – Comments on Feedback

  • Timeliness of feedback (about 50 respondents): students highlighted the impact of on future performance of not receiving feedback in good time

  • Feedback not perceived to be useful (about 30 respondents)

  • Lack of clarity about expectations (about 10 respondents)

  • Timing of assessments: in this context respondents highlighted the importance of receiving formative feedback midway through the semester

  • No feedback received (six respondents)

  • Hand written comments difficult to read

  • Inconsistent approaches to feedback across the course team

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There are five possible models*

  • Personal tutor monologue

  • Personal feedback conversations (1 to 1)

  • Broadcast feedback (podcast)

  • Peer audio feedback (student to student)

  • Tutor conversations (many to many)

* Drawn from work by Andrew Middleton at Sheffield Hallam University

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Personal Tutor Monologue Model

Tutor assesses submitted work for large cohort

  • Challenge:

    • quantity, making meaningful, legible comments, and assigning fair marks

    • feeding back before students have 'moved on'

  • Solution:

    • 1 or 2 significant points are identified for each student

    • 2-5 minutes long audio recording

    • accompanying feedback annotations in student work

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Example of Audio feedback file

  • Audio feedback example by a tutor on a fictional student’s lab report.

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Activity - Discussions

  • From what you have heard so far:

    • Advantages & disadvantages?

    • Which subject areas might be suitable?

    • Formative or summative?

    • What level of student would most benefit?

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Feedback Preparation

  • Mark the assignment in the usual way eg making written comments on it as you go along and updating your marking schedule.

  • Additionally jot down, on a separate piece of paper, the main summary points you wish to make in the audio extension.

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General Guidelines

  • Build the feedback in chunks, making frequent use of the pause button.

  • Don’t bother to erase and re-record ‘mis-speaks’; just correct them immediately, as in conversation.

  • When complete, review the recording. Is it clear and easy to follow? Do you sound approachable?

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Specific Points

  • Introduce yourself to the student in a friendly manner and say which assignment you’re giving feedback on.

  • Outline the main elements of the comments which you’ll be giving.

  • Work steadily through the assignment, amplifying and explaining your mark-up of the script and, at the end, making more general points.

  • Keep refering to the assessment criteria.

  • Offer a few, reasonably attainable, suggestions for improvement, even if the work is excellent.

  • Invite comments back from the student, including on the method of giving feedback.

  • Round things off in a friendly way

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Activity – preparation for feedback

  • From your memory of a recent piece of student work and what you have learnt so far about good practice in this workshop:

  • use the formative feedback pro-forma to write an outline only of feedback that you can record in the next activity.

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Recording Audio Files – digital recorder

  • Olympus DS-30 digital recorder (available from ERC)

    • Set mode to dictation

    • Set YCMA (auto cutoff) to OFF

    • Record feedback

    • Note file name against student id

    • Repeat until all feedback done

  • Upload files to thin client & rename each as ModuleNo-MatricNo

  • Advantages

    • Built in microphone

    • Automatic file naming

    • Highly portable

    • Easy upload to Thin client

  • Disadvantages

    • Output in .wma format only (minor since compressed)

    • no on-board editing

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Olympus DS-30 digital recorder

  • Power switch, slide down and hold to switch on

  • Recording controls

    • Microphone sensitivity, set to dictation

    • Folder selector

    • Record button

  • Playback button

  • Erase button

Book from ERC via

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Recording Audio Files – computer

  • Requires sound card, microphone and software

    • Waveosaur recommended

    • Downloadable from CAP website

    • Record feedback

    • Use file/export to mp3 to save file, naming file in format ModuleNo-MatricNo

    • Continue until all feedback recorded

  • Advantages

    • Output in .mp3

    • Sound level can be adjusted after recording

    • “Noises off” can be edited out

  • Disadvantages

    • Not portable

    • Cannot record on thin client

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Waveosaur screen

Record button

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  • Group 1

    • Observe a demo of one of the DS-30 digital recorders

    • Use one to record a dummy feedback file

    • Upload the file to your thin client file space and playback

  • Group 2

    • Observe a demo of Waveosaur on one of the laptops/ classroom PC

    • Take it in turns to record dummy feedback and save the file as a named .mp3 file

  • Swap groups

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Distributing Audio Files

  • Submission via WebCT assignment

    • Attach audio file to assignment drop box response

  • Submission via ePortfolio gateway

    • Attach audio file as a ‘comment’ to the assignment in the gateway

  • WebCT without submission

    • Upload audio file to a dedicated folder and set selective release to individual student

  • ePortfolio without submission

    • Attach audio file as a ‘thought’ and notify student

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Playing Audio Files by Student

  • Student ‘receives’ audio via WebCT or EPortfolio

  • Computer/Thin client

    • Plays using Windows Media Player by clicking on the attachment

  • MP3 player (mp3 or wma compatible)

    • downloads file to player via PC or if an iPod via iTunes which will convert from .wma if necessary

    • Plays using built in software

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Other Recording Devices – mobile phone

  • Advantages:

    • Availability

    • Good quality microphone

    • Highly portable (of course)

  • Disadvantages

    • Not all phones can record voice

    • Non-standard recording formats so conversion required

    • Can be difficult to upload to a PC unless using USB

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Other Recording Devices – MP3 player

  • Advantages:

    • Availability

    • Highly portable

  • Disadvantages

    • Not all players can record without accessories (iPod)

    • Often use a non-compressed recording format (.wav) so conversion required

    • Can be difficult to upload to a PC unless it has USB connection

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Other Recording Devices – compact camera

  • Advantages:

    • Built in microphone

    • Highly portable

    • Usually designed for easy upload

  • Disadvantages

    • Not all cameras can record voice

    • Usually use .wav recording format so conversion required

  • Hint - check if the camera has a video capability since this usually includes voice

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    Converting Audio Files

    • This step will not be required if using an ERC digital recorder (.wma) or Waveosaur (.mp3) since these are already compressed

    • .wav format – open file in Waveosaur and use file/export to save as an .mp3 file

    • Other formats, for example “mobile” formats like .amr – use one of the free converters available on the web, see:


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    Other models*

    • Personal tutor monologue

    • Personal feedback conversations (1 to 1)

    • Broadcast feedback (podcast)

    • Peer audio feedback (student to student)

    • Tutor conversations (many to many)

    * Drawn from work by Andrew Middleton at Sheffield Hallam University

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    Finally - hints and tips*

    • Spoken feedback on individual pieces of work does not need to be supplemented by written feedback. It is sufficient to indicate verbally the points in the text to which the comments refer.

    • Spoken feedback should not be presented in an excessively formal way. Students appreciate a more personal caring approach.

    • Spoken feedback should not be rushed. Students may want to replay it anyway.

    • Give examples of how the work might be changed in order to circumvent any general deficiencies that are noted. Suggesting a paper or a section of a textbook that can be read may also be helpful.

    • Always try to be positive and give praise for good aspects of the work.

    * Students’ Attitudes to and Usage of Academic Feedback Provided Via Audio Files

    Stephen Merry and Paul Orsmond

    Faculty of Sciences, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent

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    In Summary

    Overview –

    Materials –

    Citrix – please note that if using WebCT or ePortfolio via Citrix from outside QMU sound will not normally work unless the settings are changed in the initial screen.

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    References/Further Reading

    • ‘Students’ Attitudes to and Usage of Academic Feedback Provided Via Audio Files’Stephen Merry and Paul Orsmond, Staffordshire University, UK [on-line]

    • ‘Educational podcasts for teaching and learning’ Russell Educational Consultancy and Productions, UK [on-line]

    • ‘Does providing academic feedback to students via mp3 audio files enhance learning?’Stephen Merry, Staffordshire University, UK [on-line]

    • ‘Sounds Good: Quicker, better assessment using audio feedback’Bob Rotheram, Project Manager, Sounds Good Project, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK [on-line]

    • ‘A three year case study of using audio to blend the engineer’s learning environment’ Anne Nortcliffe and Andrew Middleton , Sheffield Hallam University, UK. [on-line]

    • ‘Audio Feedback - timely media interventions’ Andrew Middleton, Sheffield Hallam University, UK [on-line]

    • ‘Audio Feedback design: principles and emerging practice’ Andrew Middleton and Anne Nortcliffe, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. (available at