Often staff say that they spend hours marking work and providing feedback which students then do not collect or pay any attention to. In an attempt to raise student awareness of feedback the University has, in collaboration with the Students' Union, run a feedback campaign. This includes the importance of feedback, who can provide feedback, when feedback is provided, the need to act on the feedback provided and how to get feedback on work. The campaign includes leaflets and bookmarks with feedback messages, messages on plasma screens, a banner outside the Students' Union, wrappers on water bottles and articles in the student press. Listen to Gareth McGreevy (then SU Vice-President for Campaigns and Communication) in 2010-11 talking to Brenda Smith, HEA Senior Consultant about the campaign and the Students' Union commitment to it.
There are a number of ways students can be encouraged to engage with the feedback they are given. It should:
- enable dialogue between students and staff.
- be timely - students will not engage with feedback if it comes too late for the next assignment or after the module is finished.
- be personalised and individual - generic feedback may be appropriate for common strengths and weaknesses, but students also want to know that their work has been read and commented on.
- be articulate - students need to understand the comments made in the feedback.
- be empowering - it is easy to reinforce learning when the feedback is positive. It is also important that learning is reinforced when the feedback is more critical.
- be manageable - too much feedback can be as detrimental as too little. If there is too much feedback then students may have difficulties working out what is the important feedback as opposed to the general.
- be developmental - feedback should be an ongoing conversation about how a student has performed. Final language can halt that conversation if there is no indication about how to improve or what was particularly good.
- be accessible - written feedback may be inappropriate for students with dyslexia or sight problems.
Other ways that you can encourage and educate students about feedback are:
- in induction week have an open discussion with students about their experiences of feedback, what they expect at University and what they can expect. This could be done using small groups so that students discuss between themselves and report back to the whole group.
- to involve students in negotiating assessment criteria - ask them to rewrite the assessment criteria in their own words.
- to talk to students about what feedback is. Use three anonymised pieces of work and ask students to grade/rank them. What feedback would the students give? This allows students to benchmark themselves. The exercise could be repeated each year to demonstrate the change in standards required.
- make use of peer and self-assessment - these are both graduate skills and will be needed when the student starts work
- to use SSCC to discuss feedback and assessment.
- when students get work back with feedback give them the opportunity to share the feedback they get in small groups. In this way students support each other and learn from each other's feedback.