F. Farrell

Dublin Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
Theory suggests that there are seven feedback principles that support and develop self-regulation in students. It is claimed that this will ultimately improve their learning experience not only during the student’s time in higher education but also provides the opportunity to develop their capacity to regulate their own learning throughout their careers (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). Price et al (2010), challenge many of the assumptions and beliefs about the effectiveness of feedback practices and argues that ‘the learner is in the best position to judge the effectiveness of feedback’. From industrial experience, providing feedback to fellow workers and subordinates forms a fundamental step in striving for improvement and on-going professional development. Without doubt, providing a depth of feedback in a timely manner takes significant time and so the question arises whether it is worth the effort. Evans (2013) presents an analysis of the research on assessment feedback in Higher Education from 2000-2012 and highlights the complexity of providing high-quality feedback: the need for greater consideration of positive behaviors; how individuals process information and how it is delivered to them. This research focuses on gaining an insight into the current experience of lecturing staff and students on providing and receiving feedback and evaluates the use of an industry process improvement tool to assist in student's analysis of their feedback in order to enhance its effectiveness.

Results indicate that lecturing staff are very aware of the benefits of feedback and directly see improvement in student performance as a result, unlike the students who do not appear to appreciate its value. There is an impression amongst staff that students don’t care about feedback and express concerns regarding the time investment required and the availability/awareness of appropriate techniques. A variation in student's experience was observed depending on college year - first-year students being more positive about clarity of instructions, staff encouragement to discuss feedback and the time-frame feedback was received. Notwithstanding this, all students were positive about the availability of staff to discuss assignments. Students also emphasized the importance of getting written feedback and incorporating both positive and negative aspects of their performance in order to help them improve and obtain tangible benefits.

There was a resounding positive response towards the industry tool in its ability to clarify feedback, focus on positive and negative and help students to reflect on the guidance they received. Some concern was highlighted around confusion using the tool initially but all were willing to try and incorporate it into further reflection and feedback analysis. Further research to determine the significance of the college year differences is warranted.

[1] Evans, C (2013) Making Sense of Assessment Feedback in Higher Education. Review of Educational Research March 2013, Vol. 83, No. 1, pp. 70–120 DOI: 10.3102/0034654312474350
[2] Nicol D.J. & Macfarlane‐Dick, D (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31:2, 199-218, DOI: 10.1080/03075070600572090
[3] Price, M., Handley, K., Millar, J. and O’Donovan, B (2010) Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education Vol. 35, (3), May 2010, 277–289