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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds PATSIE POLLY: So a lot of that feedback if it’s through CATEI, the way it works is usually feeding back to the next year or the next cohort that’s going through. If it’s for a particular assessment task, we use that feedback in the moment and try and communicate what could be done better, what could be done in a different way, what could be left alone. So yeah, that part is cyclical, but unfortunately, sometimes we do run out of time. So we do our best to have a standardised way of reporting as a start point, saying this was the overall thing that we saw in the cohort. This is what we may be looking for in the future.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds And then, of course, get more individual. It depends on the class size as well and the cycle of turnover, but definitely what I tend to do for the years that follow these changes, this course has been redesigned. This innovation has happened du to popular or unpopular demand. So I make it very known that there are changes and this is why. Because the students communicate, and that’s fine. I mean, it’s important. They’re a community. So they also have to know that the courses are evolving.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds STEPHEN DOHERTY: What I found out about my teaching from this combination of methods is areas in which the feedback loop had not been closed. So I could identify in different languages, in my translation courses specific instances where students had not understood or were not able to implement the individual feedback they received from tutors. This allowed us then to identify whether it was more of an individual difficulty or a group-based difficulty for a specific language, or in fact, something that was quite prevalent across the course.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds And the latter was the case, and this could be backed up by looking at some of the data in the learning analytics, and then also asking students and tutors a bit more specifically about that feedback conversation. So this allowed me then, in the last iteration of the course, to construct a conversation quite early on in the course in which students and tutors felt that it was safe to be honest and quite frank about feedback in terms of what feedback would be expected, when, where, and why. How would it be given. And so on.

Skip to 2 minutes and 21 seconds It then allowed us to identify a couple of time points in the course where after about a month or so of receiving feedback in this way, students had the opportunity to have this conversation again. So having conversation around so how is this working out in terms of this approach to feedback? Or what can we do more or less of? And without using these various viewpoints and various sources of information, I feel that I wouldn’t have been able to find this out about the courses and address this problem. It would have been hidden using just one method alone.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 seconds I think because I would improve in the design of the course some of the design elements within Moodle and some of the specifics around the assessment. So for example, using feedback from students around the scheduling of the assessment and the various levels of the language abilities of the different groups. And we got quite a lot of feedback from students at various levels in terms of creating possibly two different levels for the more advanced users or the students who had fewer years of experience with that language. So being able to modify the assessment in that case and the feedback and perhaps create two different language groups or language levels.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 seconds From a learning analytics approach, I also started to systematically use learning analytics in this capstone course to identify some of the behaviours around assessment, identifying, for example, the effect of lateness to be able to identify elements in the assignments that accounted for the greatest loss of marks. And then to be able to use information such as that to prevent or preempt those similar mistakes being made in the next cohort. So I find that student information about assessment, about feedback, to students’ own attitudes and beliefs, as well as those of the teaching team in this course all tied not quite neatly into the learning analytics and my own observation of the teaching as well.

Skip to 4 minutes and 29 seconds I feel that the quality of the information I collect about my learning and teaching is greatly increased by drawing upon a diversity of sources of information. From student information to information from teaching colleagues, peers, senior colleagues, and in my own reflection, using, for example, video recordings of my lectures, and so on. This, all together then, improves the quality and reliability. It allows me to get different perspectives. It allows me to identify patterns or agreements between students and teachers. It also then allows me to focus on, for example, the student voice and see things that are represented there that may not be represented elsewhere.

Skip to 5 minutes and 16 seconds So I feel that, really, by combining these multiple perspectives, these multiple sources of information, that I can evaluate the efficacy of my learning and teaching in my context in a much more efficient and reliable way.

Skip to 5 minutes and 29 seconds ADAM HULBERT: Once I’ve collected feedback from students, there’s different types of feedback, and I can act on those in different ways. One thing that’s good to do is there’s this tendency to just get feedback at the end of the course. It’s not much you can do at that stage, so I really try to have, if it’s not regular, at least at a few points during the course, to try and collect feedback at those points. Often, there’s things that I haven’t realised that I can change straight away. And that will happen in the next iteration.

Skip to 6 minutes and 1 second So one example was when I was doing podcasts online, I like to put some ambient music in the background, partly for aesthetic reasons and partly to cover up any noise in the room. One student like that came when I was getting feedback and said you know what? I’m concentrating on the music so much it gets really difficult to follow what you’re saying, because I’m dividing my attention too much. And it was easy for me to then have a version that didn’t have the music or, in some cases, have a written version.

Skip to 6 minutes and 37 seconds So being able to just change that small thing that meant the student experience was so much richer that that one annoying thing that was really impeding them was dealt with. So there’s these short things that you can change immediately. For longer-term feedback, I’d just make a note of that in the next time the course runs through and change those things that I can change add those things that students suggest that they would like to know or like to encounter. Just keep track of it and make those changes where I can.

Skip to 7 minutes and 11 seconds PAUL EVANS: One strategy or innovation that I’ve used in one of my courses was towards at the very conclusion of the course, actually, I had a revision session in the form of– it was kind of like a pub trivia format, actually. So it felt a bit more informal, and it was enjoyable and engaging and a really nice way to revise the material. It’s revision, and it used to happen at the end of semester one, which is around when Eurovision happens. So the revision session– I called it Eurovision. And we listened to Eurovision, and it’s all a bit fun.

Skip to 7 minutes and 51 seconds So that was a really interesting thing for me, because what I thought was going to be a fairly informal and enjoyable activity related to summarising the course material actually turned out to be a really interesting way of evaluating whether the students had understood the material well. So I’d put up trivia-style questions about the material and some of them I was really shocked that they couldn’t answer very effectively and so I thought maybe I should try this next or go into more detail about that particular topic next year, for example. While others were really they could understand really easily.

Skip to 8 minutes and 27 seconds So I’m rethinking this revision task, and I might try and pull it back into the course so that if there are really large gaps in the student’s understanding of those revision questions, then I can try and spend more time following it rather than doing it at the end of the course, I can actually use it as a more formative process and spend more time revising the material. So that’s definitely something I’m thinking about for the next time I run the course.

Skip to 9 minutes and 2 seconds CHINTHAKA BALASOORIYA: We’ve had some extremely good feedback, and some of that feedback has been very heartening because it has shown us that we are on the right path. And some of that feedback has helped us to actually refine and improve the assessment activity as we went along. And one of the key angles that we needed to address at the midway point was that there was sometimes an extraneous load put on students to actually understand the task that was required. And we were able to remove some of that extraneous material so that we kept and really find that DVD in a way that focused students on the critically important aspects that we expected from this activity.

Skip to 9 minutes and 50 seconds So that process of continuously seeking feedback, responding to it, and reflecting on the impact that it had on students has helped us to come up with a product that is actually very effective in guiding students.

Skip to 10 minutes and 4 seconds NALINI PATHER: So there’s two reasons why I went with the iterative design. One, because it was sustainable. It was something that I could achieve by working on my own, developing something, and putting it in the course each year. So something new each year. But the other reason why I chose this sort of process is really to be able to see whether the one aspect that I’ve designed actually works with the students. So by designing one aspect, I’m getting students to give me feedback that actually makes me know whether it actually is working or not. So I would get feedback in different ways from the students.

Skip to 10 minutes and 39 seconds Sometimes when we’ve tried something for the first time, we do one of those one minute Post-it feedback things. So as students leave the classroom, they have to, on a Post-it note, write what works for them in this activity that we’ve done on this online aspect that they may have tried out this week, or how would we improve it. And from the students’ feedback, that’s where I’ve actually gotten lots of the ideas of how to make things better for the next year or even for the next half of the course, because the students are really really full of ideas.

Skip to 11 minutes and 11 seconds And sometimes when you give them something small to test out, they actually can tell you how they see it working for the next year or the next session. And in some cases, I’ve had fantastic students who have actually taken a small idea that I’ve had and built on it as part of a team of project or something and made it really good for the next lot of students. So that’s really positive and really good. But I think the most important thing is for me has been to develop a small area and then get feedback. And then as I know how it’s working or how it can be used to then expand on it and make it better or bigger.

Skip to 11 minutes and 49 seconds Sometimes, I’ve designed it so that it can be online task for the students, and from their feedback it was no, that didn’t quite work in the online forum. Sometimes, we have had a face-to-face session and they said this would be great if you can actually do it in a forum or in this format. And so it’s a lot of getting feedback and working out what works. The other thing that’s really, really critical and I’ve learned recently is that what works for one cohort of students doesn’t necessarily work for the next cohort.

Skip to 12 minutes and 20 seconds And so getting feedback in that first two weeks is really, really important, because then you can redesign what you’re doing in the other weeks or tweak the things in the other week so that they actually speak to this cohort of students. And I found that a very, very big and important lesson as I’m going through that I need to reassess for every group of students about what we’re doing.

Closing the loop in practice

Watch UNSW teaching staff talk about the concepts of the “feedback loop” and “closing the loop” and what they mean in practice. Their discussion shows how feedback is used to enhance courses and the learning experience of students.

Academics in context

Information about the academic staff in this video and their professional contexts can be found in the Video Participants Information document below.

Reflection point

Reflect on the concept of “closing the loop”. Are you able to explain what this means in your educational context?

Talking point

Each teaching staff in the video uses feedback in different ways to obtain data that can be used for enhancing their courses.

Provide one example of how feedback is used by one of the staff members on the video to enhance the quality of a course.

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Introduction to Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney