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‘Feedback sessions’ - Helping first year students get the most out of assessment and feedback. Sue R Whittle & Linda B Bonnett Faculty of Biological Sciences University of Leeds. Context. Prompt and effective feedback is a key issue in promoting student learning (Race, 2007).

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feedback sessions helping first year students get the most out of assessment and feedback

‘Feedback sessions’ - Helping first year students get the most out of assessment and feedback

Sue R Whittle & Linda B Bonnett

Faculty of Biological Sciences

University of Leeds

slide2

Context

Prompt and effective feedback is a key issue in promoting student learning (Race, 2007).

Conditions required for students to benefit from feedback:

  • Knowledge of what constitutes a good performance
  • Knowledge of how the current performance relates to a good performance
  • Skills to act to close the gap between the current and a good performance(Sadler, 1989)
slide3

Previous practice in assessment & feedback

Biochemistry laboratory practical reports for first year students:

  • groups of 14 students supervised and assessed by a demonstrator
  • 5 reports assessed during full academic session

Feedback delivery:

  • by the demonstrator
  • one week after the assessment deadline
  • during a practical session

Feedback content:

  • marks breakdown on an assessment–specific feedback sheet
  • written individual improvement advice
  • verbal reinforcement of the key points
slide4

Assessment-specific feedback forms

  • Areas of assessment include:
  • report structure
  • experiment planning
  • data quality
  • data analysis, presentation & interpretation
  • practical skills
slide5

Taking a closer look at the feedback process

Process meets many of the requirements identified from student questionnaires (National Student Survey 2007)

  • prompt return
  • written and verbal feedback
  • opportunity for discussion with the assessor

Students (85%) believe that feedback has improved their report writing

However staff were disappointed with student progress

Are feedback messages getting across?

slide6

Potential problems identified

  • Are students finding it hard to engage with feedback received during a laboratory session when their attention priority was on the current task?
  • Do students focus on the markat the expense of reflectionon the feedback which aimed to support them in improving their future performance?
slide7

Aims of project

  • provide knowledge of what constitutes a good performance and how the current performance relates to this
  • By

Self assessment of work

  • foster the acquisition of the evaluative skills needed to act to close the gap between the current and a good performance
  • By

Use of action planning sheets

  • The approach used feedback resources and a dedicated environment that signalled the importance of the feedback process and structured students’ experience of it
  • By

Introducing dedicated feedback sessions

feedback sessions
Feedback Sessions

Focusing on feedback (Session 1)

  • The initial reflection session raised student awareness of feedback processes.
  • Students used a questionnaire to reflect on the feedback they had received during their previous education, and the use that they had made of it (adapted from Write Now feedback questionnaire http://www.writenow.ac.uk)
understanding assessment criteria semester 1
Understanding assessment criteria (Semester 1)

Timetabled 1-hour feedback sessions held 1 week after assessed practical report deadlines.

Reports had been marked and feedback sheets completed in advance by assessors but NOT returned to student with report.

Students had completed self assessment of their own work and identified errors and areas for improvement using the feedback sheet.

Students then compared their own marks and feedback with that of the assessor and had the opportunity to discuss any differences.

taking responsibility for using feedback productively semester 2
Taking responsibility for using feedback productively (Semester 2)

In Semester 2 the designated feedback sessions took a different form.

Marked student work was returned with completed assessment feedback sheets.

Students used the feedback session for guided reflection on their work and planning of appropriate changes to their approach to future assessments.

A Feedback Action Plan sheet, was used to facilitate reflection and planning(adapted from Race, 2007) .

evaluation
Evaluation

At the end of the academic year opinion was sought from staff and students.

Students were asked to comment on the effectiveness of these sessions in:

  • helping them to adapt to assessment criteria used on their course.
  • developing good practice in assuming responsibility for using feedback constructively.

Their approach to feedback and its use was re-examined and compared with attitudes on entry.

Staff comment on the value of the dedicated feedback sessions and the action planning sheets.

Student performance before and after the project was briefly compared.

outcomes analysis of staff responses
Outcomes; analysis of staff responses

6 staff members took part in the project

Had the dedicated feedback sessions helped students to focus on their feedback ?

  • Some students appeared to benefit - others resented the time required
  • Helped to focus on feedback when no other activities were distracting attention
  • Students had the time to engage with the feedback

Benefits of self marking

  • Students had to focus on assessment criteria to be able to mark their own work and they learned a lot from this
  • Increased student confidence in the assessor /assessment process
  • Increased student awareness of required standards/types of errors made
slide18

Outcomes; analysis of staff responses

Comparison of student and assessor marks

Most student marks were similar to the assessors but a significant number were lower.

Had the Action Planning sheet helped students to use feedback from one assignment to improve the next?

No, generally

discussions and conclusions
Discussions and Conclusions
  • New students have very high expectations on arrival. These are largely, but not completely met in Year 1.
  • The dedicated sessions and self marking activities were well received by students and did develop their understanding of the usefulness of feedback during the year.
  • At the end of the year most students have an increased awareness of what constitutes a good performance and how their current performance relates to it.
  • BUT they are not yet able to close this gap effectively – or do not share staff aspirations.
  • Students and staff doubt the usefulness of action planning sheets.
building on the project where do we go from here
Building on the project – where do we go from here?

2008-9 session

Separate feedback sessions and self-assessment of reports has been retained in semester 1 only – timing was checked to ensure attendance is convenient for students

Action planning was introduced earlier at the end of semester 1 in the context of overviewing performance throughout the semester

Questionnaires will include questions which aim to investigate student attitudes towards usefulness of feedback

key questions
Key questions
  • How to improve use/effectiveness of feedback and action planning?
  • Do we need to raise student aspirations to see improvements in performance?
feedback sessions helping first year students get the most out of assessment and feedback23
Feedback sessions - Helping first year students get the most out of assessment and feedback

References

  • HANDLEY, K., SZWELNIK, A., UJMA, D., LAWRENCE, L., MILLAR, J & PRICE, M. (2007) When less is more: students’ experiences of assessment feedback. HEA Conference 2007
  • HIGGINS, R., HARTLEY, P. & SKELTON, A. (2001) Getting the message across. Teaching in Higher Education, 6 (2), 269-274.
  • National Student Survey 2007

http://www.hefce.ac.uk/learning/nss/data/2007/ doc accessed 10/06/08

  • RACE, P. (2007) Making feedback work

http://www.phil-race.com/files/feedbackcom.doc accessed 16/01/08

  • RACE, P. (2007) How to Get a Good Degree: 2nd edition, Open University Press, London
  • SADLER, D. R. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science, 18, 119-144.
further information
Further information

http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/events/conference/Ann_conf_2008_Sue_Whittle