About the Project
Feedback is essential to the development and growth of a student. Good feedback motivates students to engage in learning. However, the large cohort enrolled in many undergraduate courses can make it difficult for academics to provide detailed, useful and sufficient timely feedback to students.
There are several principles of good feedback including clarity of what good performance is, opportunities to bridge the gap between current and desired performance, high-quality information on students learning and encouraging self-esteem.
Some automatic feedback tools have been developed to address this problem and make it easier for academics to provide feedback. The use of such tools has increased over the past two years, due to the shift to virtual learning environments (VLE) because of the Covid pandemic. Despite the many advantages of VLEs, these tools are not robust enough to provide the level of feedback that is beneficial to student development. While these tools may have a positive effect on academics' workload, they do not necessarily aid academics in embedding the principles of good feedback. Thus, this project developed a software tool that enables staff to develop high-quality feedback without increasing staff workload.
The project aimed to create a software tool that improves the feedback that is provided to students without an adverse effect on staff workload.
The software was co-designed and built by staff and students to help academics with large class sizes to produce high-quality feedback.
As students and staff worked together to develop this software, an environment was then created where students develop employment skills and work experience that would enable them progress into high-quality employment, which is one of the priorities of the university's Education Strategy.
The project enabled staff to investigate the effects of their feedback and to develop strategies to embed best practices in their assessment and feedback. The feedback tool would guide academics to consider these metrics in advance, thereby ensuring that the learning outcomes are specific and measurable from the outset. Students would benefit from the clearly-defined learning outcomes which enable them to steer their learning, and this is shown to improve their participation in exercises and submission of solutions.
As a result, the output of the project reduces the time staff spend generating detailed feedback, ensuring that staff can both meet their deadlines and produce optimal feedback.
The outcome will be made available outside the university by publishing and presenting the software at conferences. The team plans to contact several universities and institutions and encourage them to consider using the software and provide feedback.
Depending on the software platform, developments can occur to embed the software as a plugin in existing virtual learning environments (e.g. Moodle), further increasing the reach of the software.
The team will work closely with the Information and Digital Group (IDG) to ensure that the software is available via the Software Centre, making it available to staff on centrally-managed computers. They will also organise seminars to train staff on best practices for feedback and improving student learning with the software. Using information from staff, students and other communities’ responses, updates will then be made to the software to ensure it remains beneficial to staff and students.
Dr Sam Agbroko (Engineering)
Dr Christos Mias (Engineering)
Dr Gill Cooke (Engineering), Jim Judges (Academic Technology)
Students: Andrew Mazalkou (Engineering), Sanjula Hettiarachige (Computer Science), Joey Harrison (Computer Science)