Saturday, August 02, 2008

Feedback on assessments

The Times Higher this week reports on David Nicol's recommendations for involving students more actively in assessment and feedback processes and pointing out that the traditional approach of writing detailed comments on essays and exam scripts is largely a waste of time. The comments from David Knight though point out that there might be too much attention placed on standardised feedback reports rather than simply giving the grade and a couple of sentences justifying it. Other respondents point to the practical reality of large classes and tight time constraints. However, neither of these arguments address the point of encouraging students to become more engaged and take more responsibility for their own intellectual development.

Perhaps the focus should be on the overall level of metacognitive awareness of students rather than just focussing on assessment and grade improvement. Indeed one could go a little further and suggest moving away from detailed grading towards a simple fail/pass/merit for many modules, but with formative comments and building in discussion/feedback/self-reflection as part of the scheduled class time/student commitment for many modules.

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