Effective Feedback in Blended learning

Higgs, Alison (2015). Effective Feedback in Blended learning. In: Conference Proceedings: The Future of Education, libreiauniversitaria.it, Padova.

URL: http://conference.pixel-online.net/FOE/acceptedabs...


Blended learning is increasingly being used to deliver undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in universities worldwide (Higgs 2012, Kelly 2002). E-learning pedagogy is a developing field of enquiry, reflecting the rapidity of change in behaviour and expectations resulting from developments in and tools for digital learning (Fung 2004, Sharma & Hannafin 2007). Electronic delivery of teaching and learning remains controversial particularly in those disciplines which prepare students to work in the ‘helping professions’, where sophisticated interpersonal skills are required (Johns 2003; Madoc-Jones & Parrott 2005); on the other hand there is evidence that e-learning offers such students crucial opportunities to explore their thoughts and feelings about difficult topics in anonymous and/or the relatively emotionally distant settings of online discussion and other learning activities (Higgs 2012, Huntingdon & Sudbery 2005, Quinney 2005). This paper suggests that such affordances could be harnessed by tutors needing to offer students clear messages about sensitive aspects of their work, such as poor grammar, but that such opportunities may currently be unexploited and remain under explored.

If students are to develop advanced skills in critical thinking and analysis congruent with degree-level qualifications, meaningful feedback and ‘feed-forward’ must be offered in order to facilitate improvement (Wimshurst & Manning 2013). Student writing is one area which is problematized in the literature and it may even be suggested that standards of grammar fall short of what should be expected of students (SWAP 2010). Graduates are also expected to evidence writing skills which are commensurate with their academic qualifications. In some disciplines in the UK and elsewhere it is suggested that students on professional programmes are graduating without the grammatical skills required in the workplace (SWAP 2010, HCPC 2012). Yet while there exists a substantial body of literature addressing discipline-specific writing (Lea and Street 2006), how and what to say to non-language students about grammar remains undeveloped.

This paper presents the initial analysis of a sample of final year student feedback, which identifies developmental comments over three written assignments, all of which were submitted and marked electronically. The extent to which tutors offered clear information and advice to students about problems with grammar is discussed, as are the implications of electronic learning and feedback. The paper reviews recent literature in this area, suggesting key implications for tutor development, student retention and student progression. It argues for standardising early intervention via feedback to allow students to access specialist support where necessary, so as to address difficulties earlier in the course of studies so as to allow more students to reach their academic potential.

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