Reflection on the highs and lows of written feedback
Keywords:written feedback, feedback, dyslexia
In-person, dialogic feedback tends to be prioritised in learning development (Babcock and Thonus, 2018) and is generally regarded as the most effective option (Hattie and Clarke, 2019). However, there are times when written feedback is more convenient (Burke and Pietrick, 2010). As students’ reactions to written feedback cannot be easily gauged (Dison and Collett, 2019), it is difficult to know if it is being given in the right quantity, depth, and format, to be most helpful (Nicol, 2010).
This presentation outlined research conducted to find out how students feel about the written feedback they receive from a UK university writing centre where written feedback is offered to students on placement. Examples of this feedback was provided to the audience for a sense of what this looks like, as the format and tone can vary between institutions.
249 students who had sent an essay for email feedback were invited to complete an online survey using Google Forms, for which there was a response rate of 22%. This was followed by semi-structured interviews with 11 students, to explore responses in more depth.
Most students requested written feedback due to its convenience, however some students who identified as neuro-diverse preferred written feedback over in-person feedback as it allows them to process information in their own time. That written feedback could help foster inclusion in this way was an unexpected finding. Additionally, rather than finding the feedback overwhelming, the detailed nature of the feedback increases the students’ perception that the university cares about them. This made them feel valued and important and improved their sense of belonging.
This talk concluded by looking at how the findings of this research have informed the team’s written, and verbal, feedback.
Babcock, R.D. and Thonus, T. (2018) Researching the writing center: towards an evidence-based practice. Oxford: Peter Lang
Burke, D. and Pietrick, J. (2010) Giving students effective written feedback. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Dison, A. and Collett, K.S. (2019) ‘Decentering and recentering the writing centre using online feedback: Towards a collaborative model of integrating academic literacies development’, Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus (57), pp.79-98. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5774/57-0-811.
Hattie, J. and Clarke, S. (2019) Visible learning: feedback. London: Routledge.
Nicol, D. (2010) ‘From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback processes in mass higher education’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(5), pp. 505-517. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/02602931003786559.
Shackel, E. (2023) ‘The highs and lows of written feedback: student evaluation of writing centre written responses’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (27), pp.1-23. doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi27.999.
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