IS STUDY DISCIPLINE A RELEVANT VARIABLE IN RELATION TO STUDENT FEEDBACK LITERACY?

A. Espasa , R.M. Mayordomo, T. Guasch , M. Martinez-Melo 

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (SPAIN)
Feedback literacy has become a hot topic in feedback research. Recent studies are contributing to define this construct from the student’s perspective, but to date there is little evidence to indicate whether student feedback literacy varies according to the discipline they are studying. Student feedback literacy has been studied by many authors. Sutton’s (2012) initial definition, which understands student feedback literacy in terms of three dimensions – knowing, being, and acting – has been taken as a point of reference for subsequent research. This definition has been developed into the extended definition provided by Carless and Boud (2018): "the understandings, skills and dispositions needed to make sense of information and use it to enhance work or learning strategies'' (p. 1316).

Some studies confirm that students’ perception of the quality of the feedback depends, among other factors, on the characteristics of the study discipline (Esterhazy, Fossland and Stalheim, 2020). Our research sets out from the hypothesis that student feedback literacy may be experienced differently, depending on the discipline. Hence the aim of this paper is to provide evidence on whether student feedback literacy is perceived differently according to the type of discipline studied. Malecka, Boud and Carless (2020) assert that "more empirical research in different disciplines would be valuable in investigating how students elicit, process and enact feedback in situ, over time and within specific communities" (p. 12).

Considering this conceptual framework, the main research question is whether statistically significant differences exist in student feedback literacy according to the type of discipline. An ad hoc questionnaire was prepared and subjected to validation by seven judges. The sample consisted of 2556 students. The disciplines were classified according to Becher and Biglan (Biglan, 1973) model, distinguishing between hard/soft, according to whether or not the discipline is underpinned by paradigms; and pure/applied, according to whether the discipline creates knowledge or applies knowledge that already exists.

The results obtained suggest that levels of feedback literacy are not significantly different among students studying hard or soft disciplines in an online learning environment, whether overall, or in either of the three dimensions identified. On the other hand, significant differences exist in the feedback literacy of students studying a discipline considered pure or applied. Students studying on bachelor's or master's degree programmes related to applied disciplines indicated higher rankings for overall feedback literacy (Z = -2.173; p = .030) as well as, specifically, in the being dimension (Z = -2.753; p < .006). In relation to the combinations of the two classifications, the results show that students taking hard and pure disciplines show significantly lower levels of literacy than other students. This is true for the overall literacy ranking (X2 (3,N=2312) = 10.956; p=.012), and for knowing (X2 (3, N = 2373) = 10.7567; p = .013) and being (X2 (3, N=2369) = 14.591; p=.002), but not for acting.

The discussion and conclusions of this paper provide evidence from which to make decisions at both institutional and subject level to improve student feedback literacy strategies.