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Understanding staff student interaction is central to engaging students with feedback
Dr Jill Millar

Published on 21st February 2006

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Assessment feedback improves learning, but how can we improve feedback? This talk is about some initial ideas emerging from an ongoing FDTL project based at Oxford Brookes University (in partnership with Luton and Bradford). It is argued that we need to examine the nature of the relationship between staff and students in order to understand better how feedback works. Looking at ideas from literature and initial research findings it is suggested that a possible way forward is to promote strategies which support dialogue between students and staff, dialogue which recognises and addresses the impact of the academic discourse in assessment feedback.

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Adams, C.,Thomas, R., and King, K., 2000. Business Students? Ranking of Reasons for Assessment: Gender Differences. Innovations in Education and Training International, 37, 93 pp. 234-243.

Higgins, R., Hartley, P., and Skelton, A., 2001. Getting the Message Across: the problem of communicating assessment feedback. Teaching in Higher Education, 6 (2), pp. 269-274.
Holmes, L., and Smith, L., 2003. Student Evaluation of Faculty Grading Methods. Journal of Education for Business July/August, pp. 318-323.

Hyatt, D., 2005. ?Yes, a very good point!?: a critical genre analysis of a corpus of feedback commentaries on Master of Education assignments. Teaching in Higher Education, 10 (3), pp. 339-353.

McCune, V., 2004. Development of first- year students? conceptions of essay writing. Higher Education, 47, pp. 257-282.

Mutch, A., 2003. Exploring the practice of feedback to students. Active Learning in Higher Education, 4 (1), pp. 24-38.

Related links:
Engaging Students with Assessment Feedback- What Works? Project website

"This highlights the importance of the context in which feedback is received. The relationship between student and tutor is crucial in generating a discourse from which the student can learn. In addition to the context of the teacher?s feedback, it is important that the student feels that the teacher is concerned about them and keen to help them learn. Hence the tone is important and can be set by the initial comments.

Marked OU assignments have a cover sheet, which includes overall .comments as well as the grade. It is important that these comments are constructive and useful to the student, encouraging them to look at the more detailed comments inside, on the script. These initial comments need to be concise and positive, indicating the reason for the grade and giving useful key advice. They should implicitly seek to generate the shared understanding between student and tutor, necessary for the student to learn from the tutor?s feedback." (Judy Ekins, The Open University, 21 February 2006)