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FEEDBACK GIVEN, FEEDBACK RECEIVED: LESSONS FROM A DISTANCE LEARNING COURSE

C. Savvidou

University of Nicosia (CYPRUS)
In the field of teacher education, feedback is widely recognised as a necessary component in the complex and dynamic process of learning. Involving cognitive, social and affective dimensions, feedback is given and received in the hopes that it will modify subsequent academic performance accordingly. However, while research examining online teaching, teaching strategies and online learning communities is well established, the area of online feedback is a relatively new area of research still in its infancy. Thus, against this background the present study, aims to make a contribution to this under-researched area and explore the online feedback given to postgraduate students undertaking a distance learning programme.

Taking into consideration the complex and dynamic nature of feedback, the present study chooses to explore the interrelational nature of the subject by examining how and what feedback was given (by the lecturer) and how it was received (by the learners). Data was collected from the course forums and analysed for content. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with students in the same course. With some exceptions, findings from the content analysis suggest that the much of the feedback given appeared to be in line with theoretical understandings of “best practice”; however, findings from interview data show how students understanding of the feedback they receive incorporates specific pedagogical, contextual and relational dimensions.

Here the implications of these findings are discussed in terms of how lecturers teaching online courses may want to reconsider their feedback practices so as to improve student support.