'How do Open University students learn from feedback?': A case study research with particular reference to Continental Europe

Cane, Susan Eileen (2010). 'How do Open University students learn from feedback?': A case study research with particular reference to Continental Europe. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ed44


This study explored the feedback experiences of students and associate lecturers (ALs), who study and work for the Open University (OU) whilst living in Continental Europe (CE). In particular the impact of culture and previous educational experiences on the way native and non-native English speakers interact with, and learn from, assignment feedback was explored.

A case study strategy was chosen, cases being bounded by residency in CE and enrolment on OU courses. The national, cultural and linguistic diversity of students plus their interactions and responses to feedback were surveyed. Semi-structured telephone interviews investigated student reaction to, and learning from feedback. Telephone interviews also gave voice to a group of experienced CE based ALs, who described modifications to tutoring and feedback practices, in the light of culturally diverse student groups.

Differences were found in the way native and non-native English speakers reacted to, and learnt from assignment feedback. For example native English speakers tended to view and make sense of feedback in a holistic way whereas non-native speakers were more preoccupied with matching feedback comments to individual aspects of assignments. These and other differences observed would appear to be due to many interrelated factors, such as non-native speakers' lack of previous experience with feedback and their personal, cultural and educational history. Additionally, the pedagogical approach used in each national system of higher education is likely to have impinged upon students' reactions to feedback.

The study also challenged the notion that all CE students study with the OU for subject based reasons, a significant group enrol to improve or ratify their English,
with consequent ramifications for student use of feedback.

Although this study centred on OU students and tutors in CE, the findings are of relevance to academic, administrative and student support staff in any university that offers courses in a transnational setting.

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