IOE Learning and Teaching Conference session

Gwyneth gave a presentation about the project at the IOE’s learning and teaching conference. The presentation also involved an update from the institution’s Assessment Working Group. Gwyneth used the opportunity to invite discussion and feedback from staff, which raised several issues for us to think about, including:

  • The issues raised seemed representative of the experiences of most – but not all – of the people in the room. If anything, people expected greater use of essays than was reported in relation to formative feedback.
  • It was felt that people may feel more able to experiment and innovate with formative feedback than with summative feedback.
  • Geography uses a bridging module between PGCE and other Masters-level courses, with a formative presentation and a written summative report.
  • Some areas are already considering feedback on earlier work. In this case, feedback sheets are online; markers are encouraged to read prior feedback before marking new work. However, in this programme there’s no face-to-face feedback, which is why the written feedback needs to be careful and detailed.
  • The same project also involved a standardisation meeting that generated an exemplar that markers use as a point of reference to guide current practice.
  • In some areas, in the final summative work students are asked to reflect on how they’ve taken feedback on board, and also to self-assess the degree to which they’ve done this.
  • Peer feedback was discussed. It was felt that this had worked well in specific programmes (high quality, specific, supportive feedback was mentioned), although there were issues, including how important it is to help students understand what a good piece of work is, what the limits of trust and confidence could be in this, etc. It was suggested that working towards peer assessment required students to make progress in relation to understanding, self-assessing, etc and so could be a good way of working through some of these issues, helping people understand their own work (and what needs to be done to it) better. It was suggested that this might be easier in a PGCE group because an environment of trust and discussion was built up across the programme. It could be harder to create this online.
  • There were concerns that the flexibility of the current offer – particularly following curriculum review – could raise issues for coherence of feedback and development. Consistent contact with a tutor could help in relation to this, although there may be an issue with tutors supporting students on modules from other programmes where they don’t have expertise. Feedback on structural aspects (e.g. academic literacy) might be possible to support, however.
  • Getting assessment integrated across modules is important but is likely to take years to achieve.
  • Recognising the time needed for marking, assessment and feedback is important – it might be necessary to spend less time on teaching and more on assessment/feedback.
  • It may help to have a conversation about what good feedback looks like at an institutional level.