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Engaging in Dialogue, Assessment and Feedback

Assessment and feedback are crucial elements in truly establishing whether learning has taken place, and so we should give students access to this, to enable them to understand and reflect on the extent of their learning and (if feedback is good), take it further or aim to improve it next time. Dialogue after a learning event can take place via an email exchange, comments on a blog, instant messaging or via voice-over IP (VOIP) software, such a Skype. For larger groups of students, organising a webinar, where all students sign in at a designated time to receive feedback and/or exchange ideas, could work well.

Students benefit from talking about what they have learned. If one student has found an explanation difficult, they might benefit from another student (with better understanding) explaining it to them. In turn, that student has the opportunity to consolidate their own understanding through their explanation. This type of reciprocal teaching or dyadic teaching has sound pedagogical value, and contrasts with more didactic approaches which might be experienced through traditional lectures.

Technology can help a great deal with the submission, marking and return of formally assessed work. However, there is a danger that returned work (such as an assignment) only serves as a record of a grade and does not allow the student to further their learning. Further learning can be enhanced not only through the quality of specific feedback provided but by including hyperlinks to useful follow-up material (e.g. study skills links), electronic comments attached to a specific point made or even audio feedback, which a student can download a listen to using, say, a mobile device. Some studies have shown that audio feedback has a more powerful and lasting impact on students than traditional written forms.


Giving feedback on a student blog


Email feedback encouraging persistence


Assignment feedback with student and tutor dialogue