Using Assignment Review and Skill Review to create a feedback culture at Maastricht University

Course context:
Students in this Ecology course are independent 3rd year level students that work in small Problem Based Learning sessions. The instructor does not believe in extrinsically motivating students to ask for feedback, instead feedback culture is normalized and receiving feedback is perceived as essential by students. The learning activities are aimed at testing the levels of knowledge and understanding. The assignment is divided into a hand-in assignment (scientific proposal) and an additional in-class presentation with live feedback.

 

Motivation to use Assignment Review and Skill Review

  • The instructor wants to cultivate a culture in which requesting and processing feedback is normalized. 
  • What I want for the students is an environment in which they can continuously process feedback. It is an open ended assignment, in which a 100% score is not possible to achieve”. Feedback is key since there is not one correct answer to the assignment. It is ok for the students to make mistakes and there should always be room for further improvement based on feedback.
  • The motivation to use technical support is mainly to enhance the teaching method, rather than to modify the teaching method with technology. The goal is to enable qualitative real-time feedback and reduce time spent on superficial meetings.

 

Learning goals and outcomes: 

  • Students should be able to understand, illustrate, discuss and review the main ecology course concepts.
    Additionally,  they should learn to write and evaluate (scientific) proposals.
  • Provide and receive feedback in a positive and constructive manner orally and written. 
 

Learning activities:

In this course students will face so called open-ended problems: problems for which the solution possibilities appear to be infinite. To find a proper solution students need to break down the problem into several pieces to understand it, generate ideas to solve it, and evaluate the generated ideas to find the most effective solution. This process is called Creative Problem Solving (CPS).The course also includes a presentation, during the presentation students receive live feedback from the teacher. After receiving feedback on a presentation students are asked to self-reflect and process the feedback. The actual skill of presenting is not graded by the instructor or specified as a specific learning objective. During the entire process students gather feedback.

 

Evaluation and assessment of learning outcomes:

  • The instructor evaluates whether students demonstrate an in-depth understanding of concepts, skills, and processes during tutorials. Instead of only scoring the understanding, the instructor will also provide feedback on students’ performance during tutorials.

  • The student’s ability to process feedback is evaluated by reviewing to what extent students corrected their shortcomings.

     

Learning material and tools:

  • Assignment Review module (asynchronized) and the Skill Review module during the in-class presentations (synchronized).

 

Variations

Compare how students assess the in-class presentations (with Group Member Evaluation tool) to how the instructors assess / provide feedback. 

Instructor role course: 

  • The instructor shares assessment criteria to create transparency about the assessment.

  • The instructor provides written feedback and checks whether students reply with follow-up questions.

  • The instructor provides feedback (live) in class during presentations.

  • The instructor checks the analytics table to evaluate progress made and specifically checks whether students read and process their feedback.

 

Added value of using technology:

  • For the process of checking whether students indeed processed the feedback, being able to see this in the tool was a big added value. 

  • For the presentation phase the benefit is the real time assessment option and the fact feedback comments can be reused for other students.

  • There was no more delay for students in receiving their feedback; fast processing of feedback was previously rather difficult to organise especially in bigger groups of students.

 

Interesting outcomes

  • According to the instructor the biggest gain is the time that is saved through automation.

  • Students: enjoyed working with the tool and would like to see the application in other courses as well. Furthermore, students perceived the workflow to be very intuitive. Being able to access feedback whenever students wanted to was considered as the biggest benefit. 

  • In most cases, the students who performed poorly had not read the feedback.

  • After introducing FeedbackFruits, there were fewer students who approached the instructor with irrelevant questions. 

  • Moreover, the instructor said: “It is anecdotal,  but I am pleasantly surprised to see students are actually very interested in feedback once it is available in an accessible and clear way.” 

  • Providing feedback while presenting can result in distraction, as students start to focus on processing the feedback rather than paying attention to the presentations. 

  • In order to give consistent feedback, the instructor would benefit from correcting or adjusting some of the comments at a later point in time. 

  • FeedbackFruits concluded it needs to add the option of holding the feedback with a release deadline as it could be the solution to avoid distraction and ensure feedback consistency.

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