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Researching Assessment Practices (RAP)

Assessment Feedback Resources

Assessment feedback comprises “all feedback exchanges generated within assessment design, occurring within and beyond the immediate learning context, being overt or covert (actively and/or passively sought and/or received) and, importantly, drawing from a range of sources” (Evans, 2013, p. 71).

The emphasis of feedback should be on supporting learners to drive feedback for themselves. To address 'the feedback gap' it is important to get students to clarify their understandings of feedback and for them to ascertain where the problem lies (e.g. lack of knowledge; lack of preparation; misunderstanding of the process and /or requirements) (See Sadler, 2010).

When we receive feedback we often interpret it at the personal level rather than at the task level (see Kluger & DeNisi, 1996). In considering the emotions of feedback, allowing sufficient time between students receiving results and feedback on work, and follow up discussions regarding the next steps in developing work is very important in order to enable students to fully process the feedback given, and to be ready to take advice on how to proceed.

Engaging students to lead on feedback should be a priority; this requires students to do the necessary preparatory work so that they can make the most of feedback opportunities (e.g. encouraging students to pitch a proposal for an assignment; to ask specific questions as part of their formative work; to take the lead in tutorials and seminars regarding what they would like feedback on). In order for students to develop and maintain motivation they need to believe that their efforts will lead to success. A key question is how are learning environments supporting students’ perceptions of self-efficacy? This is an important ingredient in the development of students’ self-management skills.

In addressing the four assessment feedback dimensions of EAT, the role of individual differences is important.  Students’ understanding of feedback and their capacity to act on it depends on their beliefs, motives, and established schema; feedback needs to tackle these areas early on to ensure students’ psychological development is synchronised with other aspects of their self-regulatory development, and so that appropriate addition and removal of scaffolding can be applied.

Feedback needs to have a dual function in meeting students’ immediate assessment needs and in gesturing to the knowledge skills and dispositions they require beyond the module/ programme as part of lifelong learning (see Boud, 2000; Hounsell, 2007).

AF 1 - Provide accessible feedback

Keeping assessment focused with an emphasis on how to improve is important (e.g. What was good?  What let you down? How can you improve?). Agreeing key principles underpinning assessment feedback and consistency in the giving of feedback are essential (Evans, 2013 - see Appendix A).

AF 2 - Provide early opportunities for students to act on feedback

In order to support students to help themselves, early assessment of needs is important. Emphasis should be on providing early opportunities for students to receive feedback on key areas of practice while there is sufficient time for them to use such feedback to enhance their work; assessment design must take account of this. Furthermore, formative feedback must directly link into the requirements of summative assessment as part of an aligned approach.

AF 3 - Prepare students for meaningful dialogue / peer engagement

Peer engagement activities are important in promoting student self-regulatory skills. The term "peer engagement" focuses on student collaboration, confidence, and autonomy (Cowan & Creme, 2005) and predominantly comprises formative support as opposed to summative peer assessment.

It is possible to identify key elements of effective peer feedback designs … These elements include the importance of setting an appropriate climate for the development of peer feedback practice, acknowledging the role of the student in the process, ensuring authentic use of peer feedback, the need for explicit guidance on what constitutes effective feedback practice, encouraging students to critically reflect on their own giving and receiving of feedback, and addressing ongoing student and lecturer training needs. A key question for educators is how to maximise the affordances of peer feedback designs while at the same time minimise potential constraints for learners. (Evans, 2015b, pp.121-122)

Clarifying student responsibility within peer engagement models is important; this requires clarity regarding student expectations with peer engagement designs, and student access to resources to ensure full preparation for meaningful rather than meaningless dialogue. A key question is how are you mobilising students to effectively contribute to the design and delivery of programmes as genuine partners? 

 

AF 4 - Promote development of students’ self-evaluation skills to include self-monitoring / self-assessment and critical reflection skills.

For feedback to be sustainable, students need to be supported in their self-monitoring (in the moment) and self-assessment (aggregation of information from multiple past events of their work), independently of the lecturer / teacher (cf. Carless et al., 2011). (For clarification on self-monitoring and self-assessment see Eva and Regehr (2011).)

Curriculum design is important in “creating opportunities for students to develop the capabilities to operate as judges of their own learning” (Boud & Molloy, 2013, p. 698). A key question is how are we engaging students in co-judging their work with lecturers?

The importance of developing students’ self-monitoring skills cuts across all 12 sub-dimensions of EAT. Self-assessment is fundamental to the self-regulation of learning (see Archer, 2010). Opportunities for students to assess their own work and that of others are important in enabling students to develop self-assessment capacity. Supporting students to find their own resources and networks to support their understanding, the use of modelling of approaches, and use of tools to explicitly demonstrate different ways of thinking are all important in supporting students in this endeavour. In order for students to critically reflect on their learning it is important to consider how their reflexivity can be developed through support structures (e.g. student support groups; direction to new sources of information; ensuring sufficient challenge so that students have to re/consider their approaches to learning).

(See Chapter 10 - Making sense of critical reflection in M. Waring., & C. Evans (2015).Understanding pedagogy: Developing a critical approach to teaching and learning (pp. 161-186). Abingdon, Oxford, United Kingdom: Routledge

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