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AI Formative Feedback


In collaboration with her students and a data scientist, Dr Isabel Fischer has introduced AI formative feedback across her modules. With this AI formative feedback tool, students are able to receive machine-generated formative essay feedback in advance of their final deadlines so that they have time to make any necessary revisions before submitting. Dr Fischer’s AI formative feedback project is still developing, but in its current iteration it gives students feedback on referencing and sentence structure, which means Dr Fischer can better engage with the content of student assignments when marking the final essays. Participation is voluntary and students are co-collaborators in the tool’s development. They have the opportunity to feedback on the process and whether it fulfil their needs. Additionally, because the AI tool is being developed with transparency in mind, students are made aware of exactly what the AI formative feedback tool is looking for before submitting.

In response to finding that students arrive at university with differing levels of writing ability due to different schooling and academic support, Dr Fischer has introduced AI formative feedback in order to democratise assessments. The AI formative feedback tool ensures all students are given the same opportunity to improve their writing and it can track improvement over time. This is also a response to concerns expressed by students in student satisfaction studies around receiving sufficient, fair and timely feedback.

Lesson plan

  1. This is an ethics-approved project and students were initially invited to feedback on the ethics requirements and whether this project fulfilled them.
  2. Working with a data scientist, Dr Fischer tested the readiness of the tool by submitting past essays and reviewing the feedback.
  3. Students were invited to submit their assignments to the AI marking tool in advance of final submission.
  4. Students received machine-generated feedback.
  5. Students were invited to give feedback on the feedback they had received.
  6. Dr Fischer also reviewed the AI marking tool with colleagues during two focus-group sessions.

Tutor's observations

The AI formative feedback tool provides feedback before students receive a grade. Not only does this allow them time to make edits before it’s too late, but they are able to better engage with the feedback when it’s not linked to a mark.

Machine-generated feedback needs to be communicated in a particular way. If it is too opaque and numeric, students will doubt its validity.

Student testimonies

The overall feedback is very useful for the general understanding of your academic writing skills.

It is quite cool and it is a new approach I never tried before.

I have enjoyed the visualisations most since they are interactive and easy to understand.

Grammar suggestions are useful since they show some spelling and small mistakes that I ignored before.

The knowledge graph allowed me to see the bigger picture at a time when I was too focused on the detail. It helped me to break down my essay and also showed the correct as well as incorrect relationships between key concepts.

1_AI Marking
2_first_Dr Isabel Fischer
3_first_Warwick Business School
5_second_Dr Isabel Fischer
6_second_Warwick Business School
IB263: Design Thinking for Digital Innovation