Formative feedback and writing assessment: any evidence of learning?

Shrestha, Prithvi (2016). Formative feedback and writing assessment: any evidence of learning? In: Assessment for learning and assessment of learning: Incommensurate paradigms or complementary perspectives? BAAL TEA SIG Conference, 11 Mar 2016, University of Reading, UK.



Research on assessment and feedback in Higher Education (HE) indicates there is lower student satisfaction regarding assessment and feedback than for other aspects of HE academic support (HEFCE, 2010). It is argued that assessment and feedback is conservative and monologic in HE (Nicol, 2010). Therefore, there is a need for further investigation of how assessment could be made more responsive to students’ needs and their learning. This study explored the nature of formative feedback provided in an open and distance learning undergraduate module that focused on academic literacy skills for business studies. Particularly, this study examined the relationship between the formative feedback provided by tutors and the extent to which students’ academic writing development did/did not improve over two assignments. The study followed a mixed methods approach in which the data were collected through a survey (n = 22), and student (n = 8) and tutor (n = 6) interviews. Additionally, student assignments (n= 16) and associated tutor feedback (n=16) were collected from those students who were interviewed. While the survey data were statistically analysed, the interview data were thematically examined. The student assignments and the associated tutor feedback were analysed to explore any evidence of student learning (i.e., academic writing development) which may have been as a result of the tutor feedback. The findings suggest that there is some evidence of positive impacts of assessment materials and tutor feedback on student learning. These findings have implications for improving institutional assessment strategies and tutor formative feedback practices in higher education.

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