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Feedback: What students think

UNSW students talk about their experiences of receiving feedback in their faculties.
In order to get feedback, I have to personally go to the lecture to ask for feedback. And the feedback is usually just really generic. Just saying, oh yeah, maybe just go and study harder, study more. So there’s not much feedback. Most recently all the feedback is coming through Turnitin. So you just put the assessment online, whatever assessment it is. And then the marker will go through and mark it through there. And that’s really helpful because what they can do is basically they highlight– you basically upload your document, and they can go through and highlight different sections and write individual comments on each section. And you can access it online with your mark everything as well.
They can put feedback along the sides as well. So it’s really easy to check back and look how you’ve done. And you can continually go back. I get feedback probably one to two weeks after we submit the assignments on Turnitin. And mostly they’re specifically written for you. So we don’t have a problem with getting our feedback. But the problem is basically understanding, like I said. We do get feedback to an extent. But it’s generally just a tick or a cross with some kind of information. But something like mathematics, for example, you often get full examples of, full work examples of the tests, which is quite good. You know exactly where you’ve gone wrong.
In other classes, in the more physical-based style classes, it’s often just a tick or a cross out on an exam. If it’s a project, like if you hand in a draft of it, it’s usually just written feedback on the draft you’ve handed in. Otherwise, if it’s like a mid-semester multiple choice, you just get a mark. But that indicates if you need to put more effort in. But I really like mid-semesters because, yeah, it kicks you to do more– like, more work. There are two types of that. There’s the interactive ones, which are like smart sparrow, which are interactive on mechanical tutorials, which are very useful. They’ll give you feedback on where you went wrong. It’s obviously automated feedback.
But it does it very much step by step, so you can pinpoint exactly what the mistake was. Yeah, so those are very useful. But when it comes to other types of quizzes where it’s just like a multiple choice sort of thing, you just get told how many you got wrong, and you might receive partial marks on that. Depending on the lecturer, the instructor, they like to mark on the actual essay, which is a lot more beneficial for us learning because you know where that relevant comment is. And some instructors leave no marks on your actual work and have two lines at the end, saying you could be better. And you start to think, where did I go wrong?
Incredibly. Especially if it’s such a new concept for you to learn. And I didn’t get feedback from my first semester until about week 11. And it’s too late to get out of the course. Your exam’s soon. You don’t know how you’re going. It’s incredibly important. I mean, in a new degree and a new situation, you just need it as soon as possible really. And so, you know, yeah, well, it’s the only way you can really fix up the holes in your knowledge is by getting feedback. You can study more and more and more, but if you’re going along the wrong track, then you’re not going to get much out of that study.
Because they already have such a high level opinion, I think it might be a little bit difficult for them to understand, like, when they’re structuring a response, oh, this is how a student is going to be thinking. Not how a lecturer is going to be thinking, which I think is really– it’s a big thing to come down to, but it’s also something that needs to be addressed. Yeah, it’s very important because you might not even know if you have a problem in that subject until you receive feedback. And if they disclose where your problem areas are, that’s really good. So you can focus on that more.
And expecting the students come to them. Because I don’t know what the schedule their lectures are, but I’d like to think that if I’m spending weeks doing this assignment, handing it in, and they are marking it for anywhere between two to four weeks, I would like to think that they had enough time to be able to write more than two lines. Oh, it’s very good. Or it’s not good enough. And that way we’d be to then pinpoint, I’m weak in this area. I mean, it would be helpful to just have, like, a remark. Maybe even just like once of course, halfway through, just a general remark on what could be improved on.
So I think having some sort of, like, standard that the tutors mark to would also be very useful. I guess it would be better if lecturers could give feedback online. Because you can use everything online these days. And just type a few sentences of which way I could do better and which way I didn’t do well in the final exam. I know this could be time consuming, but it really helps the students. I think maybe doing something like, you know, when we get our assessments back, have a time where students can come in and talk to the lecturers about– Five-minute interviews. Something like that. Yeah. Exactly. Like, maybe if, maybe not, compulsory, you have to come at this time.
But the option is there. The option, yeah. And the lecturers volunteer their time rather than being like, oh, you know– Preferably in the middle of the semester so you know before he hands out, you know, where you sit and what you need to improve on. Making it more personalised. That’s the only way it can really be improved, I imagine. I’m not really sure how it could be done, in what format, or through what forum it could be done better. For each assessment, having it more personalised feedback. Of course, that results in more man hours for tutors, but that would be good. Just for some subjects, to get their feedback to the student in an appropriate time.
I guess, yeah, that’s pretty much it.
We talked to students at UNSW across a range of disciplines and years and asked them about their experiences of assessment in their faculties.
Watch the video and listen to the responses to the questions we asked:
  1. How do you receive feedback in your faculty?
  2. How important is the feedback to your learning? How could this be improved?
Reflection point:
Think about the following question as you watch the video:
Which of the assessment strategies have you used as a teacher or experienced as a learner?

Talking point

How do you think one of these strategies benefits student learning? Why?
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