University College Dublin (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3422-3423
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Feedback to students is “effective” if it enables and encourages students to do better in future. Fortunately, there is a growing corpus of research-based evidence on the various ways in which this goal can be achieved. One of the best introductions to the literature in this area is Nicol 2007 – who identifies ten key principles that can guide those who seek to improve their own, or their institution’s, practice in this area.

In University College Dublin, a structured reform of assessment and feedback practice on an in-service graduate diploma in education for Faculty and others with a university-level teaching role, attempted to ensure that those who completed the programme not only understood the principles in theory but had experienced them as students and reflected how this experience could inform their own practice as teachers. The reform, introduced into two modules, involved a peer assessment and feedback process where students were asked to critique each other’s work a short time (usually two weeks) prior to the final submission of assignments. Each student had to critique the work of one peer and have his or her work critiqued by one other. The emphasised goal of this activity was to produce:

a) feedback to enable beneficial final revisions to work before it was submitted for tutor marking; and

b) feed-forward which would help them produce better work in subsequent modules.

The process was repeated over three successive cohorts and three operations of two modules – i.e. six occasions of peer assessment. Each individual student could have experienced the process in two modules. The three cohorts collectively contained 56 students, It was, however, possible to opt out of the peer-assessment process and not all students took both modules. Overall, 52 students engaged in at least one occasion of peer assessment. As these were biannual modules, the research covered a period of six years.

The effects of the process on student work were investigated through end-of-module evaluations and post-module evaluations involving individual interviews.

In all end-of-module evaluations (percentage of cohort participating always in excess of 80%):

1. A majority of students agreed that the process prompted them to revise their assignment before handing it in. Over the six occasions of peer assessment the range of those who chose to revise work before final submission ranged from approximately 55 – 70%.

2. Of those who chose to revise their assignments (n=38), all agreed that the process had been instrumental in improving quality of the final version.

In post-module evaluations (percentage of cohort participating always in excess of, but close to, 30%):

• A majority of respondents (>60% n = 10/16) agreed that the feed-forward significantly helped them to produce better work in at least one subsequent module.
Peer-assessment, formative assessment, feed-forward.