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Feedback on Academic Essay Writing through pre-Emptive Hints: Moving Towards "Advice for Action"

Whitelock, Denise; Twiner, Alison; Richardson, John T. E.; Field, Debra and Pulman, Stephen (2015). Feedback on Academic Essay Writing through pre-Emptive Hints: Moving Towards "Advice for Action". In: Best of EDEN RW8 (Special issue of the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning) (Bernath, U. and Szücs, A. eds.), European Distance and E-Learning Network, Budapest pp. 1–15.

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This paper adopts an “advice for action” approach to feedback in educational practice: addressing how provision of “hints” to participants before they write academic essays can support their understanding and performance in essay-writing tasks. We explored differences in performance by type of hint, and whether there was a transfer of better performance in subsequent essays. Fifty participants were recruited, consisting of eight men and 42 women aged 18-80. Participants were assigned in rotation to four groups, and asked to write two essays. Groups 1 and 3 received hints before Essay 1, whilst Groups 2 and 4 received hints before Essay 2. Groups 1 and 2 received essential hints; Groups 3 and 4 received helpful hints. Essays were marked against set criteria. The results showed that an “advice for action” approach to essay-writing, in the form of hints, can significantly improve writers’ marks. Specifically higher marks were gained for the introduction, conclusion and use of evidence: critical components of “good” academic essays. As the hints given were content-free, this approach has the potential to instantly benefit tutors and students across subject domains and institutions and is informing the development of a technical system that can offer formative feedback as students draft essays.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
ISSN: 1027-5207
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Supportive Automated Feedback for Short Essay Answers (H-10-028-DW)EP/J005959/1EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
Not SetEP/J005231/1EPSRC
Extra Information: Special Issue Article
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 43207
Depositing User: Denise Whitelock
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2015 09:32
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2019 17:55
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