Re-conceptualizing Feedback Processes and Strategies

David CARLESS
The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
dcarless@hku.hk

Abstract

Feedback is both a key driver of student learning and a source of frequent frustrations amongst staff and students. This presentation begins by reviewing some of the main challenges for effective feedback processes and outlining some limitations of a conventional view of feedback as providing information about performance.

I go on to suggest that there is a need to re-conceptualize feedback as an element of regular in-class activities rather than something which mainly occurs after assignments are submitted. Students need to gain classroom experience in making judgments about quality work and engage in evaluative conversations with teachers and other students.

I draw on a case study of a year 1 undergraduate Architecture course to explore the practice of critical reviews by which students present and receive feedback on their work in progress. Data collection comprised classroom observations and interviews with participants. These data are used to illustrate key themes: the public nature of 'on-display assignments'; the interplay between internal self-evaluation and the external gaze of the critic; and how peer feedback occurred within the design studio.

The effectiveness of strategies found in the case study is related to wider possibilities in the theory and practice of feedback. These include: engineering opportunities for dialogic forms of feedback; and the distinction between 'spontaneous' and 'engineered' peer feedback.

The main conclusion is that perceptive student self-evaluation is strongly interlinked with feedback processes in that unless students have an evolving conception of quality, it is hard for them to decode and use feedback.

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