What types of essay feedback influence implementation: Structure alone or structure and content?

Whitelock, Denise; Twiner, Alison; Richardson, John T. E.; Field, Debora and Pulman, Stephen (2017). What types of essay feedback influence implementation: Structure alone or structure and content? In: Technology Enhanced Assessment (TEA 2016). Communications in Computer and Information Science. (Joosten-ten Brinke, D. and Laanpere, M. eds.), Springer, Cham, 653 pp. 181–196.

Abstract

Students approach educational courses with varying levels of experience and understanding, and so need appropriate support to inform them of expectations and to guide their learning efforts. Feedback is critical in this process, so that learners can gauge how their performance aligns with expectations, and how they can improve their efforts and attainments. This study focused on the effects of providing different types of feedback on participants’ written essays, as well as on participants’ motivations for learning using measures of motivation and self-efficacy. In terms of research questions, it was important to ascertain whether participants performed differently in subsequent essays after receiving feedback on structure alone or on structure and content; whether their self-reported levels of motivation and attitudes to learning were related to essay performance; and whether the difference in type of feedback affected their self-reported levels of motivation and attitudes to learning. Findings revealed no significant difference in marks between those receiving feedback on structure alone and those receiving feedback on structure and content, which is surprising and deserves further exploration. Even so, using feedback to highlight certain structural elements of essay writing can have a lasting positive impact on participants’ future essay performance.

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