A guide to using feedback: Designed by students for students

A student looking at a teaching film.

The overall aim of this project was to provide students with a user-friendly online guide on how to use feedback that they have received from a wide range of assessments. The intention was initially to target School of Engineering assessments, however, the scope of the project widened through collaboration as the project progressed.  The guide has been trialled by both students and academics/colleagues across the University of Birmingham. 

The key drivers for this project were:
That feedback has recently been highlighted by the university as a priority area (following under-whelming results from NSS);
Enhance the School’s engagement with Section 2.10 and 2.11 of the Code of Practice on Assessment & Feedback on Taught Programme and Module Assessment (2017-18).

Snapshot

Start/end date: January 2018/March 2019
Beneficiaries: Students and Academic Staff
Theme/focus: Feedback
Discipline: Engineering, and Sport Exercise & Science
Cohort size: cohorts of up to ~400 students

Abstract

A user-friendly feedback guide to enable undergraduate students to better understand how to use feedback that they have received from a wide range of assessments has been prepared via a Canvas course. This guide has been designed by students for students. Since the guide is online it can be easily updated on a yearly basis and this role is being built into the student rep role description. A clear outcome from EEF-CSLP186 is that student and staff perceptions differ considerably; managing expectations and building understanding of what feedback is, on both sides, is important.

What we did

We created an online guide on Canvas which includes a range of assessments and the feedback provided for these from the assessor. Furthermore, the guide includes a detailed introduction section to feedback and therefore has a two-fold purpose as it also addresses the challenges of new incoming students who may be unfamiliar with the assessment and feedback process. The guide was authored by students and relied on their peers authorising that their work could be included in the guide.

We also sought ethical approval to gather student feedback with respect to the guide and now feeds into improving the guide.

What we achieved

Our first achievement has been the creation of the Canvas page: https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/courses/29882. The student authors have found the process extremely beneficial to their outlook on feedback.

The project has enabled collaboration between students from different Schools, namely Engineering and Sport Exercise Science. Staff across the University have engaged with the guide and provided rich feedback and input. This is a resource that is easily transferable to other Schools since it is Canvas based.

The guide and bank of assessment has facilitated the workshops for a further project, Feedback as dialogue in the digital age: preparing for NATY (reference CSLP220), which has been extremely beneficial to students who have so far participated.

What we learnt

A clear outcome from this project is that student and staff perceptions differ considerably; managing expectations and building understanding of what feedback is, on both sides, is important.

Our initial evaluation of the resource has demonstrated that students have found that the guide supports them both in improving their general understanding on the concept of feedback and provides general guidance on academic writing. Students stated that it is communicated to them that they will receive feedback but not necessarily what to expect and what to do with the feedback. There is also variation in the feedback received between Academics and this outcome was also a driver for the next project (Feedback as dialogue in the digital age: preparing for NATY). The students have also found the examples of work with the feedback extremely useful as it allows them to self- assess and compare against their work. The have made several additional requests with regards to “nice to include”, which we have accommodated for where possible.  The student reps have aided in promoting the initial pilot of the guide and will be key going forward in terms of encouraging their colleagues to engage with the resource and raising suggestions so that the guide develops yearly.  This project has also enabled collaboration amongst students as the authors have been from different Schools. The Engineering students who have worked on the project have found this very beneficial as they have identified the good practice from other Schools and incorporated it into the guide. 

Colleagues from other Schools have been very supportive of the resource with examples of Schools adopting it for their students. 

It has been extremely rewarding working alongside very talented and motivated students, who have contributed greatly to the success of the project and the user-friendly guide.

The collaboration and sharing of the feedback practice has been extremely positive and beneficial for the students and staff it has impacted.

This guide was also used alongside the workshops delivered for the next project as an enabler for students to improve their understanding of feedback at the outset of the workshops. Also importantly it has enabled a bank of assessments to be made available to run the next project's workshops, which is a fundamental part of demonstrating the use and benefit of its online feedback application.

Looking ahead 

The initial collaboration with CAL colleagues was key to the initial steps of the project. The guide has fed into feedback workshops for students post project and will continue to do so in the future. Feedback workshops are planned for the feedback sessions in NATY. The sharing of feedback practice through the guide has continued with colleagues across the University.

Further links, resources and communities of practice

https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/courses/29882

References

2017-18 Code of Practice on Assessment & Feedback on Taught Programme and Module Assessment

 

For more information, contact the projects office on hefi.projects@contacts.bham.ac.uk, quoting reference CSLP186.