On the 26th of July, the JISC InterACT project group ran a 1-day event sponsored by the Higher Education Academy titled: ‘Implementing best practice guidelines to promote assessment for learning: challenges and rewards’. The team includes: Rola Ajjawi, Susie Schofield, Karen Barton, Grant Murray, John McAleer and David Walker.
The purpose of this event was to generate strategies for the uptake of best practice guidelines in assessment and feedback in the higher education sector. Findings from research were explored with regards to the use of best practice guidelines in developing assessment for learning to stimulate discussion.
The objectives of this workshop were to:
• Generate discussion about best practice guidelines of feedback and assessment in higher education;
• Disseminate findings from two research projects; and
• Discuss strategies for uptake across the sector, including overcoming challenges and identifying rewards.
A number of new strategies were presented for improving feedback dialogic practices. A feedback audit tool was presented that can be used to profile the way different tutors give feedback. Participants discussed potential reasons for the ‘feedback gap’ between tutor-student perceptions of feedback. Causes included: 1) blurring of the boundaries between instruction and feedback; 2) feedback being monologic and transmissive and so failing to transform learners’ internal dialogue; and 3) tutors taking a narrow perspective on feedback that is focussed on technical/disciplinary learning rather self-regulation where learners are helped to develop their complex evaluative judgements. Participants worked in small group to generate strategies to address some of the principles that can be found in the literature around assessment and feedback.
We were delighted to have Dr Steve Draper from the University of Glasgow join us and present his work. He challenged the audience to consider that feedback is only feedback when it leads to a change in the learner and this change needs to be evidenced. He also presented some work demonstrating benefit of 2D feedback where learners can make the most from their grade by knowing how their performance improved relative to previous efforts (ipsative) and where they are relative to the rest of the class.
The following principles were agreed by the participants as being most relevant, during an appreciative enquiry session the participants were asked to note what happens (discover) and what their dreams would be under each of the principles.
1. Ensures feedback leads to improvement (and we can see the improvement)
- Discover – Reference to criteria and goals; Podcasts of “ideal” answer post-exams; Invite “fails” to come and see me, bringing with them some ideas of change; Specific feedback/forward on future assignments – how to take what they may have learned forward; Ipsative and normative feedback / discussion with individuals to action plans; Generic feedback; Continuous tutorials which lead on from previous; Provision of feed forward.
- Dream – Properly designed assignment schedule with feed forward built in; Shared wiki has potential to lead to improvement; Implement prompt on what students wans feedback on; How do we motivate students to want to attain more than a “pass”; Individualised approach that addresses specific need.
2. Engage students with assessment criteria
- Discover – Students can select criteria they want feedback on; Go over criteria in initial session (introduction to module); Published in the module handbook; Signpost to criteria in subsequent sessions; Feedback sheet gives breakdown on criteria both marks and comments.
- Dream – Reasonable staff / student ratios; More time; Involve students in setting criteria from the beginning of the module; Get advantage of face-to-face feedback session for large cohort/classes.
3. Student uses the feedback to inform future work
- Discover – Formative feedback leads to dialogue; Repeated iterative assessment in each year at each level with source guidelines; Action in response to formative feedback – your comment /any response.
- Dream – Transferable learning; Take responsibility; Develop skills to give / take / act on feedback.
4. Leads to long-term self-assessment and action (life-long learning)
- Discover – Encourage reflection; Student – student dialogue; (More) formative assessment; Criteria; Provide constructive feedback; Provide positive feedback; Provide marks; Tutor-student dialogue.
- Dream – Design principle; Learning student cantered driven; Time; Transparency of marks; Variety of assessment v’s “skills” in teaching
5. Leads to personalised learning
- Discover – Staff / student relationship; Ask students to contextualise their work – demonstrate application to their context
The following recommendations concluded the event:
- re-conceptualise feedback as dialogic, social and constructed rather than transmitted
- take a curriculum/programmatic perspective on assessment and feedback, rather than viewing feedback as a knee-jerk, one-off post assessment event
- re-purpose feedback for promoting self-regulation rather than just for improving performance on specific tasks
- to consider ways of promoting self-regulation, dialogue and a programmatic approach to feedback
- consider ways of promoting dialogue using technology
In addition an Annotated Bibliography of important articles for assessment and feedback was compiled. Slides from the event can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/r_ajjawi/review-of-assessment-and-feedback-literature-for-hea-sponsored-seminar