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2. Speed up feedback


Edinburgh Napier’s student charter commits to feedback within three working weeks for assignments and five working weeks for exams. Students tell us that this is not consistently met. Worse still, expectations across the sector are increasing: two weeks is now common, and there are even examples of next-day feedback despite cohorts of over 400 students (Race, 2014). The good news is that meeting demands for more speed can free up tutor time and will make us focus on smaller amounts of feedback with more impact (Sykes, Morrison, & Gray, 2015).


  • Use taught sessions for feedback, such as marking students’ work ‘live’ in tutorials.


  • Use audio recording or screencasting to create oral feedback.


  • Arrange assessment deadlines to avoid bottlenecks in tutor workload.


  • Ask students to pose specific questions for their feedback.


  • Agree a particular focus for feedback on some assessments. For example, after the first trimester stop giving feedback on referencing or grammar. Groups might also negotiate feedback priorities. For example, feedback on one task might focus exclusively on clarity of argument, another might focus exclusively on use of literature.


  • Compile feedback from the previous cohort and release it to students before they submit their work: make it clear that you will not give individual feedback on these points. You could return a highlighted version after submission to show which comments still apply.


  • Schedule time for feedback: it is one of the most important parts of our job as academics, so the delivery of content may have to be re-thought.


  • Get global feedback out to students early. You might even be able to predict the feedback you expect to give, which would be an interesting prompt for discussion after students have submitted.


  • Make sure you are just giving feedback aimed at students: mark justification and comments for the external examiner are much less important than student learning. An external examiner wants to see good practice, there is no reason to give worse feedback to students to try please examiners.


  • Use in-class voting technology to quickly check understanding and focus feedback to the group.


  • Liven up discussion boards by using a mixture of text and audio to encourage peer feedback – check out http://gong.ust.hk/


  • Request feedback on your feedback, challenging students to make specific requests for future feedback.


  • Design peer review sessions so that students spend time evaluating the work of others; consider marking their critique, rather than the work itself.


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