Feedback for all

I think I had a bit of a eureka moment today. Instead of seeing feedback as something which is given by the tutor at various points in a course, I am beginning to realise that it can become an integral and continuous part of the teaching and learning process involving the whole group.

Feedback has traditionally been seen as something passed from tutor to student. Best practice has sometimes involved an attempt to get a dialogue going between tutor and student.
Yang and Carless (2013) extend the definition by seeing feedback as “all dialogue to support learning in both formal and informal situations” but they are well aware of the “imbalanced power relationship between tutor and student”, in which the student may well experience negative emotions.
How can we avoid this imbalance and achieve a real dialogue or a “conversational framework”?

Just as “assessment for learning” is all about using assessment as a formative activity throughout a course, feedback can also be seen as pervading almost every aspect of a teaching programme. Some ideas for achieving this:
+ peer feedback can be more effective as it has the potential to avoid the power relationship issue and it results in a different    type of feedback
+ opportunities for dialogue occur as students interact
+ collaborative assignment production would incorporate continuous peer (and tutor) feedback
+ the tutor could show all students all their feedback (not just each individual’s) which they then discuss in small groups
And there is scope for making the dialogue between tutor and student more of a formative conversation:
+ offer students choice about the form of feedback they prefer (Nicol 20010)
+ podcasts and video casts offer alternatives modes of feedback
+ students can make requests for specific feedback about aspects of the topic when submitting work
+ students can submit a note in which they are asked to say what their main points are, to highlight what they see as the strongest and weakest sections and to say what questions they have for the tutor.

My next task is to look at how this kind of conversation can be achieved online.

Nicol, David. “From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback processes in mass higher education.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 35.5 (2010): 501-517.

Yang, Min, and David Carless. “The feedback triangle and the enhancement of dialogic feedback processes.” Teaching in Higher Education 18.3 (2013): 285-297.

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