This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Discussion about feedback

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    What is your own experience of feedback (either as a tutor or as a student) in technology enhanced or online programmes?

    I’ve written a couple of blog entries this week from a tutor perspective, so I thought I would flip it for this activity.

    As a student – very good experience on the OU MAODE.  We have regular assignments which are [mostly] summative, but only count for relatively small proportion of marks individually. There is then a larger summative assignment which is the examinable component.  I receive rich, detailed and helpful feedback from my tutor – this has been consistent across three tutors on my modules so far.  It encourages dialogue with the tutor – which, in my experience, they have always been happy to engage in.  The model established by the OU has worked for me!  Assessment criteria are usually very clear, to the extent that any gaps in clarity are quickly identified by students as they are so unusual!

    How can we ensure that students engage with, and act on, in a timely manner the feedback provided?

    I find it really difficult to understand why a student would not do this – for me, it’s about self-efficacy.  If you don’t engage with your feedback, you risk doing the same old, same old next time.  I guess there is always that group of students who are broadly content with their mark (if it’s a summative assessment) and therefore consider the ‘cost’ of engaging and adapting is greater than  the ‘benefit’ to be gained.  I think that how feedback is delivered and broken down can be important, but whatever the medium, it’s about clarity of message.




    Is it not wonderful when assessment and feedback is treated with equal parity and work so well?!

    I had a similar experience when I studied for my City & Guilds Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning sector.  In our group everybody took advantage of the summative assignments and the opportunity to get detailed feedback from the tutor.  In our summative assignment there was also a formalised reflection section which if one wanted could be completed like a paper exercise with very little effort. I found this one of the most helpful part of the course to convey my confusion, breakthroughs, struggles, etc. on a personal level and this was then used as basis for individual session with the tutor to advise, explain, encourage, coach and mentor.

    I note your last point as to why some students would not want to engage in this feedback and I agree but I also think that because it is a choice that they are happy to remain content,  or coasting as I like to call it where no additional effort is made or deemed to be required. Learners should be strongly encouraged to make use of this safe environment, as appose to when it is formative assessment.


    Thanks Ali and Elizabeth for your reflections on what appear to have been very positive experiences of  tutor feedback. I think this type of engagement is what we should all be aiming for, whether we’re students or tutors.

    I’d be interested to know how you received your feedback – was it face to face, written, online –   and did this make any difference in the way you engaged with it?

    It would be good to hear about other’s experiences too, either from a tutor or student perspective.






    Hi Linda

    On my OU course, we received the feedback in written form, but we are given our tutors’ contact details should we want to follow anything up.  Occasionally, I have done this by email and even more occasionally by phone.  On OU MAODE courses, we had weekly tutorials in Elluminate in which we also received tutor group-wide feedback (e.g. at the start of a session) and formative feedback on our activities/answers to questions within the tutorial setting.

    Regarding engagement, I found the written form of feedback helpful as it was markups and comments on my assignment – very rich and useful for future.  I could also engage when I chose to – given I was fitting the course in round a full time teaching job.  However, the channel to real time communication was an added bonus in the rare event I needed it.

    Hope this helps!


    Hi Linda,

    Feedback was delivered in written form and you were actively encouraged to discuss this f2f if you wanted, which I did.  There were a couple of instances when peer-review/feedback was given,  having first been given clear guidelines of how this should be done.  The feedback then was given verbally and then written up as an accuarate record for future use.



    I’ve suggested that audio feedback is really worth considering on another forum but it’s worth repeating myself!

    There is a JISC introduction to the idea at:

    But I think this and the accompanying ‘how to’ guide is out of date and there are a number of  different ways of doing it nowadays. This has prompted me to try to find a more up-to-date account. I have found that ocTEL is very good at giving me new things to do!


    Thank you for sharing that Pete. I have seen some great examples of using audio feedback through GradeMark recently.

    I wonder if anyone has examples of video feedback?

    I think many academics feel the pressure of quicker feedback turnaround times. Here at Coventry University we must feedback within two weeks. In my opinion, using different ways to communicate feedback can help facilitate a quicker turnaround time.




    Ali, In response to your original question about how we ensure students engage with their feedback, we found during a project that students engaged with their feedback a lot more when a rubric was used. Although the use of rubrics are contested in the literature, and are not right in every context, we found that it lead to increased transparency about where a grade came from and also showed the students exactly what they needed to do to improve on the grade. I have just written a quick blog post about it here which explains what we did in more detail:

    I am not advocating their use in all contexts, subjects and levels but in our case they worked really well and the students really liked them.




    In response to the point about audio feedback, we too have seen some good use of audio feedback particularly in GradeMark. It works well as in already embedded in the tool so there is no uploading of audio files and making sure the right file goes to the right student etc. The problem we have found is that students would like to download the audio file to save, and I don’t think there is a way of doing that. In a similar way, we archive our modules and would like to extract the audio feedback to archive but again I don’t think you can do that unless anyone knows differently…

    Our students like the audio feedback as it feels more personal and it is particularly easier to break bad news by audio. In contrast though our international students prefer written feedback, may be because it can be translated easier?



    Thanks Peter for the audio feedback suggestion and Sue for sharing your experience of it.  It is good to have options.



    My colleague Alan Cann is currently doing an HEA project on audio feedback: and

    We’re also looking at using electronic marking more widely within the department.




    I recently submitted an assignment for a level 7 module and was offered the choice of written or audio feedback (inclusive!).  I chose audio because this is the first time I had been given this choice and was keen to experience it at first hand.  (Actually, as I write this, I have a vague memory of another time on another course a long time ago but I am going to continue with my thoughts otherwise I won’t finish this post – that’s what often happens to me – as I’m writing I remember something else then have to go and find that and so miss the moment!)

    Anyway, I found the feedback was very detailed and as I was listening to it from the player on my PC, I had the assignment open as well.  I listened to it all and then went back to the beginning, stopping and starting the audio to make notes on my assignment as I went along. So, in a way, I created my own written feedback to myself, which I can refer to in the future (as well as listen to the audio, of course).  I also summarised the feedback/feedforward points made in the audio and emailed my tutor with them to ensure I had correctly surmised the points made.

    Because of the way I accessed it i.e. not on a phone/mp3 player, it ‘forced’ me spend more time on it and it allowed me to reflect on my assignment that I could see in front of me and think what I could do to improve.  All in all, I probably spent more time and thought with it then I would have with written feedback (thinking back to my experience when I have had written feedback).

    These are all strategies that, I feel, could usefully be suggested to students to facilitate engagement with feedback.

    The feedback was from my tutor, Kathryn McFarlane, at Staffordshire University who, with a colleague, wrote a paper about using audio feedback, following their project back in 2009 and is available here:
    Using audio feedback for summative purposes
    As for audio feedback, I do know of some academics using screencapture tools (Jing; Screencast-o-matic, Screenr, BBFlashback – all available free) to give audio feedback as they scroll through the student’s assignment open on the screen (I was sort of simulating this when I was listening to my feedback).



    In response to the question about video feedback, a lecturer at our Uni, James McDowell has done a lot of work on this, In fact he won an ALT award in 2011 of it – this is the link to his screencast about it:

    Video feedback can also be useful when grading something physical like a piece of art, or a model of something. A useful ipad app for this is Explain Everything which allows you to annotate the video (or still image, or collection of images) and record a narration over the top. Very useful for pointing out the positives and areas for improvement.




    Thank you Sue, James’ work looks really interesting. I particularly like the inclusivity of this approach. I can also see its benefits in giving quicker generic feedback to the wider cohort.

    Perhaps the key with engaging students with feedback is delivering it through multiple channels, thus meeting the needs of students with differing learning styles.


    James Kerr

    I think we can encourage interaction with feedback but it is only mature, responsible learners (not age-dependent!) who get the most from feedback.

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