Dr Edd Pitt – Students’ utilisation of feedback: a cyclical model

This video can be seen alongside others from the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Open Lecture series and annual conferences on the EDU Vimeo channel.

In this presentation, Dr Pitt proposes a conceptual cyclical assessment and feedback model which attempts to further understand the problematic nature of feedback within higher education. Whilst at University students experience many instances of feedback on their work. Quite often such feedback is facilitated by academic lecturers via a monologic transmission process, in the hope that the student will utilise this and improve in their next assessment. Frequently lecturers report that feedback does not always have the desired effect of improving a student’s subsequent performance (Hounsell, 1987). It also appears that the student’s emotional response, motivation, self-confidence and subsequent effort deployment in future assessments following feedback is unpredictable and warrants further consideration. In response to such problems, the present research explored student’s experiences of assessment and feedback from a phenomenographic perspective. Twenty undergraduate social sciences students, studying at an English University were asked to pictorially represent their experiences of assessment and feedback and participate in a 1-2-1 interview. The interview data were subjected to thematic data analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) and revealed 8 main themes (Lecturers, Emotions, Feedback Cognitions, Efficacy Cognitions, Draft Work, Motivation, Effort and Grades). The findings from this analysis indicate a multifaceted interpretation of the student experience and as such a six stage conceptual cyclical assessment and feedback model is proposed. The conceptual model indicates that a student’s achievement outcome, relative to their pre-determined expectation level, regulates their emotional reaction and subsequent feedback related cognitions. The phenomenographic outcome space (Åkerlind, 2002) revealed five categories of description (broken relationship, needy, low achiever, emotionally charged and high achiever). The structure of the variation indicates a hierarchically inclusive pattern, representing how varying forms of behaviour and emotional reactions interact to affect the students processing and subsequent utilisation of the feedback received. The results of the study also suggest that grade outcome was a powerful construct which seemed to foster both adaptive and maladaptive emotions and behaviours. In conclusion the study suggests that understanding students’ individual needs through fostering lecturer and student relationships, alongside dialogic feedback, helps to improve students’ propensity to utilise the feedback received.

Dr Edd Pitt is Programme Director for the PGCHE and Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice at the University of Kent. Edd has worked in Academia for 12 years in various teaching and research roles. His principle research field is Assessment and Feedback with a particular focus upon student’s emotional processing during feedback situations. His current research utilises visual methods of drawing and Lego Serious Play to foster deeper participant engagement within the research interview.

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