I have been teaching an assessment and feedback module for lecturers and those who support teaching in DCU this semester. When planning for the module I spoke to DCU students about their experiences of assessment and feedback. The students highlighted that they wanted clarity and consistency in assessment criteria and they wanted timely feedback. Some of the students described how their lecturers showed them what an example assignment looked like. This reminded of what John Hattie talks about in showing the students what success looks like.
I also met with the lecturers, the upcoming participants of the module, before it commenced to explore the challenges they faced with assessment and feedback in their teaching, to see what I could do to help solve their problems in practice. Interestingly, comments from the lecturers resonated with Bloxham and Boyd (2007), they criticised students as being grade oriented, failing to take account of the feedback. Undeniably, students not interested or valuing feedback is a hot topic among educational researchers right now. Indeed Carless (2015) claims that unless feedback is acted upon it has no real value. Moreover Naomi Winstone and Chris Nash and have highlighted how learners need to be supported in valuing feedback and acting upon it. This has resulted in The Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit (DEFT) .
More recently, until 2016, I was a student studying an Educational Doctorate. At the beginning of the programme we had some essay assignments to enhance our writing practices. Looking back these were formative learning activities with in-depth feedback given by reviewers.BUT, I also got a mark for my performance, and every time I got the feedback I looked the numerical result first and breathed a sigh of relief. I admit now that I was also a grade-oriented student. In thinking about this I consider myself as conditioned by the system to primarily seek a grade as a way of benchmarking my own capability in comparison to others. While I didn’t ignore the formative feedback, I think reflection is necessary about our own attitudes and behaviours as educators towards marks and feedback.
But, coming back to the purpose of this post: feedback approaches supported with technology, namely audio and screencast feedback. In earlier teaching practices I used podcasts to provide feedback on student draft work. At the time I didn’t evaluate the audio feedback approach, but I received positive comments from students saying it was good to hear my voice and that it helped them interpret the feedback more easily.
Recent literature found that a range of feedback techniques (written, audio and video) enabled students to get a stronger insight into academic performance (McCarthy, 2015) and that the use of audio feedback can facilitate a more personal and authentic connection between teaching staff and learners (Dixon, 2015).
While I have created audio feedback for a number of years I thought it was time to diversify and bring in a novel approach. The Y1feedback project offers rich insights into the feedback practice of lecturers in Irish higher education institutions. Indeed Corcoran (2017) and Rodgers (2017) both advocate screencasting as a means to provide generic whole class feedback as a timely follow-up to an assignment. Cranny (2017) citing Mayer and Moreno (2003) indicates that screencasting combines the two major senses visual and auditory input and this can be beneficial for meaning. Cranny (2016) also asserts that using audio visual feedback can help mitigate against potential ambiguity that may occur with traditional written feedback.
The approach I used
Keeping in mind the approaches of Cranny (2017), Rodgers (2017) and Corcoran (2017) I designed an audio-visual screencast to highlight 3 mains issues arising within student assignments. While there were more than 3 potential issues to give feedback on, my colleague Clare Gormley reminded me that 3 key takeaways could help student engagement with the feedback.
So the process of generic whole-class feedback via screencast involved
- Gathering 3 key feedback points
- Creating a PowerPoint presentation
- Using QuickTime player to record the screencast
- Uploading to YouTube as an unlisted video and sharing the link with all students.
And there we have it – a screen cast of feedback highlighted 3 key points for the students to focus on in their further work on the module.
Watch it here and please pose comments on how this might be improved, or what you do in your practices
Bloxham, S. and Boyd, P. 2007. Developing effective assessment in higher education. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Corcoran, M. 2017. General Feedback on Exam Performance. IN: Technology-Enabled Feedback Approaches for First-Year: Y1Feedback Case Studies in Practice: Y1Feedback. Available from: https://www. y1feedback.ie
Cranny, D. 2016. Screencasting, a tool to facilitate engagement with formative feedback? AISHE-J. The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 8 (3), pp. 2911-2927.
Dixon, S. (2015) The pastoral potential of audio feedback: a review of the literature, Pastoral Care in Education, 33:2, 96-104
Mayer, R. E., and Moreno, R. 2003. Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational psychologist. 38 (1), pp. 43-52.
McCarthy, J. (2015) Evaluating written, audio and video feedback in higher education summative assessment tasks Issues in Educational Research, 25(2).
Rodgers, J. 2017. Screencasting for Enhanced and Manageable Large Group Feedback in Language Learning. IN: Technology-Enabled Feedback Approaches for First-Year: Y1Feedback Case Studies in Practice: Y1Feedback. Available from: https://www.y1feedback.ie
Y1Feedback 2016. Technology-Enabled Feedback in the First Year: A Synthesis of the Literature. Available from: y1feedback.ie