"Lecturers who really care about their students' learning provide feedback."
In interviews with UTS undergraduates about feedback, students made the following comments:
- It as a misconception that they are only doing courses to pass assignments. They are enrolled in their subjects to learn
- The stress of the high workload was only worth it if it resulted in higher quality learning.
- They saw that the effort that they put into their projects is not reciprocated in the quality of the feedback they received from the lecturers.
- Students expect to be able to experiment but also to have their ideas challenged and tested
- Feedback helps students to improve and prevent them from making the same mistakes again.
- Feedback is useless if it comes back too late in the session. Students sometimes wait on the feedback before they feel capable of going onto the next bit.
- Grades do not equal feedback. Examinations are usually a summative form of assessment and therefore not used for feedback. Students who attempt to learn from their examinations are often frustrated that they cannot get copies of their exam papers.
- The quality of the feedback is the same as the quality of teaching. Only the lecturers who really care about their learning provide feedback.
- Poor quality feedback also reflects poorly on the University. It gives the impression of overcrowded classes, a lack of personal help and encourages cheating
- Students expect more feedback now they increasingly having to fund their own education. These are questions of accountability and transparency.
- Students argue that there should be two stages of submission of assignments so they can receive formative feedback and improve their assignments
For students, high quality feedback consists of following three things:
1. A clear criteria against which to judge the comments.
“The whole feedback is based on spelling and grammar, and not just that; there's the style, he'll even criticise the size of the font you use”
2. Comments that are detailed and related to specific aspects of their work. We're given verbal feedback during a tutorial, but often it's quite general and doesn't always apply to you
“The best feedback is where you get written comments and they are written alongside the actual bit of your assignment that they’re commenting on.”
3. Comments are improvement focussed.
“Feedback is very good as it doesn’t just lead you on by letting you know what you’ve done right or wrong, but it also makes you think of ways to solve future problems.”