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To What Extent do the Different Styles of Immediate Formative Feedback Provided By OpenEssayist Help Students when Drafting Essays?

Foster, Stephen (2018). To What Extent do the Different Styles of Immediate Formative Feedback Provided By OpenEssayist Help Students when Drafting Essays? MRes thesis. The Open University.

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This research investigated the extent to which the different types of feedback provided by OpenEssayist helped students when drafting essays. In particular it focussed on the new rainbow diagram feedback, as research has not previously been conducted into how well students interpret the rainbow diagram in respect of essays which they have written themselves.

OpenEssayist is an immediate formative feedback system to help students draft essays. Text and graphic visualisations provide feedback to students on essay structure and content; the software does not provide a suggested mark (Whitelock et al., 2013). The rationale behind the development of OpenEssayist was to encourage students to use its immediate feedback to develop reflective practices which, through self-regulation, support essay writing and develop essay writing skills (Van Labeke et al., 2013).

Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with six research participants from an Open University master’s level module. These interviews were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-phase thematic analysis process.

Data analysis produced four key findings:

i. OpenEssayist helped most participants to structure their essay.
ii. OpenEssayist helped most participants to more effectively plan and write essays.
iii. Most participants found it challenging to understand the rainbow diagram and use it to improve their essays. Participants would like further guidance on these aspects.
iv. Overall OpenEssayist can give confidence to participants that their essay is well structured and has the intended content.

The study has limitations. The small number of participants resulted in a limited spread of data, and two participants had not used OpenEssayist – though they did provide data on why they had not used it.

Although the results from the study are not generalisable, they have demonstrated that, in the context of this research an automatic writing evaluation (AWE) system can help students structure essays.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Author
Academic Unit/School: Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI)
Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
Item ID: 53901
Depositing User: Stephen Foster
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2018 13:23
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 19:16
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