Providing Written Assessment Feedback That Students Will Value and Read
This paper will report on the first stage of an ongoing research project, which involves the provision of staff development for lecturers, to encourage them to provide more effective feedback for their own students. The project is based in one higher education institution – City University London.
It is well documented that provision of good quality feedback is central to enhancing student learning, yet existing research suggests that these needs are not always being met. Reasons for this include: lecturers believing that only a grade is sufficient; lecturers lacking skills to provide helpful feedback; evidence that feedback is not always read by students. Further, whilst lecturers are normally provided with preparation for teaching, marking and feedback have often been neglected areas.
This research focused upon the opening module of the main staff development programme at City University, the purpose of which is to prepare both new and more experienced lecturers for aspects of their role. As part of this module, lecturers are provided with a full day of guidance on assessment principles and high quality feedback. Data were collected from the assessment that lecturers undertake for the module, this being an essay about key pedagogic challenges that they face in their role; they were also asked to use the module assessment criteria to self assess their work, providing both a mark and feedback. The researchers then analysed this against pre-determined criteria.
The findings suggest that lecturers’ self-assessments were generally accurate in terms of allocation of marks and provision of positive comments. However, they were not able to provide an indication of areas of weakness and advice to develop these areas.
The challenge of this ongoing research is how to develop appropriate skills within lecturers to enable them to provide feedback to students which the latter will read and value.
Keywords: Assessment Feedback, Enhancing Student Learning, Staff Development
Dr. Pamela Parker
Associate Director, Learning Development Centre, City University London
Senior Lecturer Educational Development, Learning Development Centre, City University London