Students need to learn if what they are doing is appropriate, if it communicates to others and whether their own views correspond to those of others. The usual term used for this process is feedback. However, feedback involves more than simply getting comments. To be effective it should consider the needs of the person receiving it and ensure that it is in a form that can be used.
The term feedback can only be accurately used if the information provided is received and acted upon. Feedback information can only be well formulated if there is good knowledge of how it is likely to be used. Feedback may be directed to the improvement of a particular task or type of task, or to build students' capacities as learners more widely.
Students give comments to other students. Providing guidelines for giving and receiving feedback (pdf) can assist students to make helpful comments that contribute to their peers' work.
Benefit flows to both the giver and receiver of comments. The giver has to formulate their views in ways that take account of the work and the standards and criteria that apply to it, engaging more deeply with the subject matter. The giver also must evaluate the situation and the receiver's needs, thereby developing their communicative expertise.
See a discussion of this at Issues for students to consider.
Student influenced feedback from tutors (or others)
Students brief the assessor on the kinds of feedback they require on an assignment. Comments on requested matters are provided , though comments may also be provided to prompt further thinking in areas where the student appears to have a 'blind spot'. This helps them adjust their own judgement. In a sequence of assignments over a semester or year, this creates an extended dialogue between student and assessor.
The dialogue involved in requesting feedback provides student engagement and negotiation of meaning about the treatment provided in the assignment. ontinuity of assessor can assist with building consistency of feedback.
+Variation: discussions are held between the student and assessor after comments have been provided.
Example: Students respond to earlier teacher feedback on their work as the second stage of an assignment in English Literature to improve writing and reflection skills. Download AfL CETL Case study 1 (pp 4-10): Montgomery and Mc Dowell (2008) pdf (33pages).
See also Issues for students to consider
Calibrating judgements against others or against standards
This can include simple self-testing (through set questions with answers and guidance on wrong answers), but more powerfully includes teachers, peers, practitioners, etc.
Calibrating judgements against peers in the context of agreed standards can increase student motivation and engagement.
Example: see ReView online criteria based assessment where students rate their assignments against course criteria and gain feedback from teachers, separate of marks.
‘Publicly’ rehearsing arguments before a ‘judge’
A formal debate or adversarial setting can utilise positive competition that raises the quality of work and judgement of performance.
Feedback is immediate and detailed and debriefing of participants may be needed. The purpose is to create a setting in which students are highly committed and emotionally involved in making an argument.
Commonly used in the law practice of mooting, it could be used more widely. The judge need not be a noted authority on the topic.