Using feed-forward strategies in higher education. The terrifying novel assignment: using feed-forward to improve students' ability and confidence on assignments that test new skills

Hine, Ben ORCID: and Northeast, Tony (2016) Using feed-forward strategies in higher education. The terrifying novel assignment: using feed-forward to improve students' ability and confidence on assignments that test new skills. New Vistas, 2 (1). pp. 28-33. ISSN 2056-9688

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Within higher education it is strongly agreed that feedback is the most important way of raising student achievement and encouraging student learning (Gibbs and Simpson, 2005). Feedback is regarded as inseparable from the learning process, and is integral to several theories of learning (e.g. Kolb, 1984). With regards to academic performance, feedback helps students understand their performance, as well as how to perform to a higher standard on future assignments. In addition, feedback provides students with the confidence and the belief they have control over their success in higher education, as well as ongoing motivation throughout their degree.

However, over the past 15 years, numerous problems with feedback have been identified. Indeed, students report sector-wide dissatisfaction with feedback (Bloxham, 2014) and statistics from many universities show students do not check their written assignment feedback when they receive their marks (Gibbs and Simpson, 2005). When they do engage, they often report that feedback is not useful to them, that they struggle to apply the comments and suggestions given to future assignments, and that feedback looks back at work that has been done, rather than forward to how they can improve (Duncan, 2007). This is supported by Evans (2013) in her review of assignment feedback in higher education that states student dissatisfaction with feedback is well reported, and most complaints focus on the technicalities of feedback, including timing, content, organisation of assignment activities and lack of clarity about requirements.

It is therefore suggested there is a ‘feedback gap’ (Evans, 2013; Sadler, 2010), representing a disassociation between the efforts and guidance of lecturers and utilisation by students. In other words, a fundamental mismatch is occurring between how feedback is currently administered and utilised, and how feedback should impact on the learning experience. At present, most students view feedback in a linear fashion (Murtagh and Baker, 2009), where students complete an assignment, and receive feedback, but are not engaged with markers’ comments. This linear model of feedback demonstrates an absence of reflection and application of feedback comments. This directly contradicts theories of learning that suggest feedback is a fundamental part of the learning process and should be fed into a circular as opposed to linear model (Beaumont, O’Doherty, and Shannon, 2011; Kolb, 1984). Central to this misinterpretation is the belief that tutors are delivering feedback at a time when students cannot use this effectively (i.e. in a formative manner). Addressing issues of timing, as well as the associated dissatisfaction felt by students, is clearly a vital endeavour.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © University of West London 2016
Keywords: Feedback, feed-forward, higher education, assignment
Subjects: Education
Depositing User: Tony Northeast
Date Deposited: 04 May 2016 12:17
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:44


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