Having explored a number of Jisc and independent feedback projects on assessment and feedback I have selected ten points which emerge as being critical for making feedback work.
- Timeliness is critical if feedback is to be useful; consider whether quality management systems are blocking the use of feedback. 4 weeks is too slow!
- Criteria are important but they can also promote tactical learning as students learn to be selectively negligent (Gibbs, 2012). Use criteria but don’t be locked in by them.
- Curriculum design is important. Too many assessments and too many small modules do not encourage deep engagement, and the associated assessment does not capture sufficient study time so as to be meaningful.
- Feedback should feed forward. It is important that staff are able to know something about what comes next for each student. Without any understanding the opportunity to be purposeful in feedback is severely limited.
- Little and often is better than more and infrequent.
- There is only so much individual tutors can do – there is a need to consider programmes and course suites.
- Feedback that refers to material that will not be studied again tends to be ignored.
- Where feedback stimulates dialogue about learning, the feedback is perceived as being more useful; this is where feedback crosses in to the line of personal development and students taking control.
- Reflection on feedback makes learner more autonomous. It reduces dependence on the teacher as giver and makes the student become an active part of the feedback process.
- Assessment diversity is good, but too much renders the feed forward process meaningless. Limit variety so progression is meaningful.