Feedback: Types of feedback

 

Assignment tasks are carefully designed to address unit learning outcomes. (see the Assessment types resource) Approaches to feedback should also be selected to be appropriate for the task. The University does not prescribe the ways in which you give feedback and you have a very wide choice of possibilities.

Things to consider

It is dispiriting to spend hours writing feedback and then to find that it goes uncollected, or that students apparently don’t learn from it when they produce the next assignment. Could trying a different feedback approach help? A good feedback strategy should help students to improve in future assignments and will allow the programme team to learn from the way students attempted the assignment. The decision on selecting feedback should be specific to the assignment if possible.

As a programme team, you might decide to select a key early assignment and put a lot of resource into giving detailed face to face feedback to all students, but then provide sketchier feedback on a similar assignment which comes towards the end of the year when there is less likely to be useful learning on the type of assignment. Individual feedback is not usually given on exams, but how do we expect students to know whether they need to develop exam technique, or if they need to work on a key area of knowledge? To support student learning, there might be situations where you consider using valuable resource to give a lot of feedback on formative work, but then choose a quick method to provide feedback on the final summative assessment.

We recommend that you include information about the feedback strategy in the assignment brief/unit handbook so that students know what to expect.

Individual feedback tasks and when to use them

The list of possible tasks below is intended to give you a summary of different approaches. The list is not exhaustive, but covers a wide range and the guidance for many of the examples could be adapted for other similar tasks.

Face to face

Worth thinking about when: you need to focus on feed-forward
Could be combined with: Marking Grid
Positive aspects: personalised; focused on improvement
Possible Drawbacks: time-consuming; may not show how mark was determined
Things to think about: Does it matter if students don’t attend?

Generic Feedback

Worth thinking about when: you want to give early feedback to the group; there are common issues; you want to share issues with colleagues;
Could be combined with: Marking Grid; Personal Comments; Annotations on Submission; Automated Feedback
Positive aspects: quick; depersonalised (so less emotional for recipient),
Possible Drawbacks: impersonal; potentially irrelevant for some students; does not show how individual mark was determined
Things to think about: need opportunity to distribute feedback or provide it in person

Annotations on Submission

Worth thinking about when: students will be producing something similar in the near future
Could be combined with: Generic Feedback, Marking Grid
Positive aspects: good for illustrating errors in reasoning, presentation, referencing
Possible Drawbacks: time-consuming; may seem over-personalised or picky; may not show how individual mark was determined
Things to think about: need system to match and distribute files to students

Audio File

Worth thinking about when: you or the students prefer speaking and listening to writing; you type slowly
Could be combined with: Annotations on Submission or Marking Grid
Positive aspects: quick, personalised
Possible Drawbacks: may not give holistic view of assignment
Things to think about: need system to match and distribute files to students; may need to learn to use new software

Screencast of you marking

Worth thinking about when: you or the students prefer speaking and listening to writing; you’d like to ‘show’ the marking process; you type slowly
Could be combined with: Annotations on Submission or Marking Grid
Positive aspects: personalised, students can ‘see’ the process of marking; real-time production of feedback; comments and annotations in one file
Possible Drawbacks: can be time-consuming (rendering video files takes time); may not give holistic view of assignment
Things to think about: need system to match and distribute files to students; may need to learn to use new software

Automated feedback

Worth thinking about when: the assignment is a computer-marked test
Could be combined with: Generic Feedback
Positive aspects: No input from tutor at time of marking; quick in use; focused; shows where mark comes from
Possible Drawbacks: impersonal; takes time to set up
Things to think about: need to monitor overall class performance and check completion/outlying results

Feedback Sheet

Worth thinking about when: you want the same sheets for every assignment
Could be combined with: Generic Feedback; Annotations on Submission
Positive aspects: standard approach may make comparisons between assignment tasks easier for students and moderators
Possible Drawbacks: may be time-consuming; may not fit assignment type
Things to think about: need system to match and distribute files to students

None

Worth thinking about when: you tell us
Could be combined with: not relevant
Positive aspects: quick
Possible Drawbacks: no impact on learning
Things to think about: are students missing out on something?

If you have any questions about this resource or would like further guidance on assessment task design, please contact Rachel Forsyth (r.m.forsyth@mmu.ac.uk) at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.