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Feedback to students (Formative assessment)

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1 Feedback to students (Formative assessment)
HE in FE

2 Abstract The aim of this project was to use Action Research and the Whitehead cycle to enable students to value feedback and use it to develop in their work. The rationale came from students not progressing in assignments and not using feedback to move forward and develop. Typically students were only interested in their grade.

3 The Whitehead cycle – Action Research
1. A problem is experienced when educational values are denied in practice 2. A solution to the problem is developed 3. The solution is implemented 4. The outcome of the actions are evaluated 5. The problem is re-formulated in light of the evaluation.

4 What did I do? I followed the Whitehead Cycle over a 13 month period.
This was carried out with two groups totalling 16 students studying on a Foundation Degree from

5 The Problem: (Stage 1) identified 2009-10
1.When receiving feedback, students go straight to the grade and then either don’t bother to read the feedback or read it but disregard the feedback. 2. This then has an impact on their future work where feedback has not been acted on to develop and improve.

6 The Solution (Stage 2) July 2010
When giving written feedback: Direct students to focus on their feedback before looking at the grade. The grade will be covered with a sticker. Once feedback has been read and reflected on by the student will the student will then be allowed to look at the grade.

7 The Solution implemented (Stage 3) 2010-11
The new procedure was put into operation in September 2010 Students reactions: Frustrated, impatient to see grade, reading feedback too quickly, not taking in the feedback, reflecting on anything that comes to mind = not a valuable exercise.

8 Evaluation of the outcome of the actions (Stage 4) July 2011
Student evaluations were collected on the new procedure. This was through a questionnaire. Interviews were held with a small number of students (3). The team met to discuss the experience.

9 Stage 4 continued.... Evaluations found that:
Students (87 %) felt that the grade was still the most important part of the feedback Students (40%) stated that they would be more likely to take the feedback onboard if received separate from the grade Students (93 %) reported that they felt more valued being asked to comment on their feedback

10 Stage 4 continued...... Interviews found that:
Students (100 %) were blinded by the grade and even though it was covered by the sticker, it was still there making the feedback hard to take on board.

11 Stage 4 continued..... The team meeting/evaluation:
Concluded that although the solution went some of the way to addressing the issue, it wasn’t effective enough.

12 The problem is re-formulated in light of the evaluation (Stage 5) September 2011 - current
The team decided to go a step further and introduce a new procedure: Week 1: give written feedback and encourage students to reflect on the feedback. Week 2:The grade will then be distributed one week later.

13 What next? Further evaluation July 2012 with student questionnaires, interviews and team meeting. Introduce on a wider scale across all HE programmes. Introduce self assessment sheet to be submitted with each assignment.

14 Key theorists associated with feedback
John Hattie (1999) ‘Feedback has more effect on achievement than anything else’ Professors Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam of Kings College ( ) They concluded in agreement with Professor Hattie that formative assessment has a huge effect on learning quality. It has been found to add the equivalent of two grades to students' achievement if done very well.

15 Main findings Black and Wiliam’s research review shows that if you grade work, students pay attention only to this, and don’t read your feedback. Solution Criteria are developed and discussed. Students hand in the work already self-assessed, then the teacher assesses against the same criteria. Ideally no grade is awarded, or if it is, it is given some weeks after this informative feedback.

16 Black and Williams (1998) General advice
Avoid Grading Use Self Assessment Give learning-centred feedback Focus your feedback on the: Tasks Meeting personal targets Noticeable improvements Opportunities for improvement

17 More Key theorists Royce Sadler (1980 – current) Sally Brown (Current)
Phil Race (current) Geoff Petty (Current)

18 Video 1 Video 2 Video 3

19 Video 3: Sally Brown Nothing we do to, or for our students is more important than our assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment influence students for the rest of their lives and careers’. Assessment in higher education can be a powerful force, either to help students make sense of their learning, or conversely to make it a negative and demoralising experience. As Boud suggests: “Students can escape bad teaching: they can’t escape bad assessment”.

20 Phil Race (
The next 8 slides are taken directly from a presentation delivered by Phil Race on 22 February 2012.

21 Feedback versus marks or grades
Feedback may be eclipsed by marks or grades. Students may be blinded by the mark or grade, and not even try to make sense of the feedback they receive

22 Just a mark (or grade) is the least effective form of feedback!
It’s what students look at first. If the mark is good, they smile and file – quite often they don’t even read the feedback. If it’s low, they frown and bin it – very often without reading the feedback.

23 But there are ways round this...
Give students back their work with feedback but with no marks or grades (keeping your record of their marks). Ask them to work out their marks from the feedback you have given them (and from the feedback you gave to others too).

24 Suggest that their marks will count!
Tell them that if their self-assessment scores are within (say) 5% of your own scores, the higher number will go forward into their assessment record. But explain that you will talk individually to those students whose score is different by more than 5% from yours.

25 Get them to self-assess...
Collect their scores or grades – e.g. pass a sheet round in a lecture. Most students (e.g. 9 in 10) will be within the 5%. Arrange to talk to those where the difference is more than 5% or one grade.

26 Students who under-estimate their grade…
These students often need their esteem boosted. Remind them about the assessment criteria, and how these illustrate the intended standards associated with the learning outcomes. Check that they weren’t just trying not to be seen as over-confident.

27 Students who over-estimate their grade…
This usually indicates they’ve got a blind spot. Talk them through their work, and find out exactly where they’ve lost marks which they thought they had gained. Check with them that they can now see what was being looked for.

28 Developing this idea further…
Think about getting students to indicate their expected score or grade at the point of handing their work in – for example on a self-assessment proforma. Think about getting students to work out how well they believe they have achieved each of the intended learning outcomes for the work concerned… Or how well they believe they have met each of the assessment criteria for the work.

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