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Perceptions of Feedback: Myth & Reality Jon Scott School of Biological Sciences.

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Presentation on theme: "Perceptions of Feedback: Myth & Reality Jon Scott School of Biological Sciences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Perceptions of Feedback: Myth & Reality Jon Scott School of Biological Sciences

2 Some of the Issues Whats the fuss about? What is feedback? A common understanding? The module effect Expectations Utility & Utilisation


4 Learning how to eat Smarties… Active engagement Rewards Common view of success and its measurement Feedback shows what is OK and what needs changing for next time Review of original performance in the light of feedback

5 Feedback Projects Seeing Eye to Eye: Comparing the Perceptions of Students & Staff Quick Wins Campaign Peer Observation of Feedback Departmental Guidance Student Engagement with Feedback

6 Seeing Eye to Eye - Context 85 1 st year students on Biological Sciences programme 1 st semester assessments –Weekly practical report (from day 10), 5 day turn- round –Weekly tutorials - 3 essays (3 week turn-round), 1 oral presentation Feedback cover sheet –Strengths –Areas for improvement

7 Methods On-line Questionnaire –based on Gibbs Assessment Experience Questionnaire – posted early in semester 2 Response rate: 57 % yr 1 54% yr 2 1 st year Focus Groups Structured interviews with academic staff

8 Student Participants Questionnaire – 57% of yr group Focus Groups – 25% of yr group

9 Staff Participants 14 Module Convenors 7 Personal Tutors (non 1 st yr teachers) 1 Student Learning Centre Advisor

10 Perceptions of Feedback Types Received (Focus Group) Unprompted: –Comments on cover sheets Prompted: –Comments on oral presentations –Annotations on scripts Specifically asked: –Verbal feedback in practical classes, tutorials & personal tutors

11 Types of Feedback Given (Staff) Written feedback – cover sheets & annotations They are probably less aware of the direct help they get by talking to people in lab classes, I think, … interactions are the most useful in terms of students appreciation of things like concepts that you are trying to explain. I think just the nature of handling the number of students in 1 st year practicals means we cant give immediate feedback in terms of what the correct answer was but concepts, approach and understanding the bigger picture, they should leave with that as feedback.

12 Quantity of Feedback On this course I get plenty of feedback in how I am doing 67% The feedback is usually too uninformative or brief to be helpful 35% The more feedback I receive, the more I learn 89%

13 Quality of Feedback The feedback uses language that is easy to understand 87% The feedback shows me how to do better next time 73% I can seldom see from the feedback what I need to do to improve 35% The feedback does not help me with subsequent assignments 11%

14 Quality & Utility of Feedback Sometimes the comments are helpful but sometimes its comments like when you get say 60% in a practical report and they tell you it could be better written. But youve done all that you can to write it to the best of your ability, so its kind of vague, I dont know where to improve. One of my friends had a higher mark than me and she got more comments than me in the places to improve. I had nothing and was like well I need to improve and you dont so why have you got the comments?. Thats what I was thinking.

15 Quality & Utility of Feedback I got one write up which was 90% and she [the marker] was still like you could improve it here or here. It was quite a lot of comments considering it was a high mark and it was really good because it was ok, thats what I need to be doing.

16 Timing of Feedback It doesnt matter if a module has finished before I receive feedback as I know the advice will be relevant to my new module 51% The feedback usually comes back promptly 56% Whatever feedback I receive comes back too late to be useful 15%

17 Timing of Feedback …all that depends on the marker. This time weve had one who was sometimes taking two weeks to get the reports back. Another one has got them back on the Tuesday, having had them on the Wednesday before. So it depends really on who youve got.

18 Utilisation of Feedback I have received clear and sufficient guidance on how to understand and use feedback 42% I read the feedback carefully and try to understand what is being said 71% I use the feedback to go back over what I have done in the assignment 55% I have good intentions to act on feedback I receive but forget suggestions for improvement next time I do coursework 29% I do not use the feedback when revising31% I tend to only read the marks9%

19 Utilisation of Feedback A lot of the time itll depend on the mark as to how much I do look at it [the feedback]. If Ive got a really high mark, Ill tend to look and think oh Ive done well and just put it away. If Ive got a really bad mark Ill look and think what Ive done wrong, why I got that mark If I expect a mark, low or high, and its that, I dont really read the comments. If I get a mark thats really different from what I expected then Ill really read the comments.

20 Students Reflections on Staff Views They probably think we dont read it and just put it to one side. Im sure some of them think theyre just doing it and its a bit pointless and youre not going to look at it anyway. I suppose some of them [markers] must hope that if they bother to write something down then it gets read. But they must accept that theres a great deal of variation between students.

21 Staff Views I suspect it varies, some will read it all and come to see you to ask what it means. Others, I suspect, only read the marks and check there is not too much red ink….I think if the number reflects what they are expecting then they dont pay too much attention to it. My experience is that feedback is definitely used, its a very constructive thing, a useful thing and a good proportion of students are using feedback.

22 Issues & Actions School vs University experience Recognition of feedback Consistency Timing Content & Structure Utility Feed forward Encouraging engagement with feedback Language

23 Actions Quick Wins Campaign Peer Observation of Feedback Departmental Guidance Student Engagement with Feedback


25 Engaging Students with Feedback We asked students: Name five types of feedback you receive on your work What is the most useful piece of feedback you have received? Name one way in which you have used feedback to improve your learning

26 Postcard Campaign

27 Name five types of feedback you receive on your work (top 10 answers) Number of appearances of answer

28 % Respondents naming 5 different formats of feedback received Biological Sciences vs University Verbal Written Marks/grades /online Group feedback Peers % Respondents

29 Formats of feedback by year group Verbal Written Marks/grades /online Group feedback Peers Friendfeed % Respondents

30 What is the most useful piece of feedback you have received? (top 10 answers) Appearance of answer as % of all answers

31 Ways in which feedback has been used Reflect on feedback when producing next… Improved writing skills Read more to improve understanding Identify areas needed to study in more depth Improved referencing skills Feedback motivated me to improve Read through work before sumission Learnt from mistakes Guided me on revising Improved presentation skills % Respondents

32 Activities for next year include… Standardised information on feedback in Course handbooks Institutional guidelines on time taken for feedback to be received Consistency in feedback Keep up awareness of feedback as an issue – autumn term campaign working with the Students Union Repeat the Peer Observation of Marking exercise in Continuation of campaigns including: I love my academic


34 Quick Wins – some ideas for departments Working on the timing of assessments & planned marking time Management of expectation and consistency of practice Writing style of comments and specific feedforward Clarity of marking criteria & relating marking feedback to the criteria

35 Quick Wins – some ideas for departments Submission checklist for student completion Encouraging students to reflect on previous feedback –E.g. inclusion of reflective paragraph detailing usage of previous feedback Induction for students –clear explanation of role of assessment & feedback and guidance on recognising and engaging with feedback


37 Perceptions of Feedback



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