What does reflecting involve?
This is one of the most important stages of the lifecycle. Real student learning takes place through an iterative process of reflecting on how progress matches against learning outcomes. It is also where staff review the outcomes of various assignments in order to continuously improve curriculum design and delivery.
What are we trying to achieve?
The aim of this stage is to ensure that students engage with their feedback and use it to improve their future performance.
In a similar vein academic staff need to engage with student feedback and statistics on the performance of particular cohorts.
How might we use technology at the reflecting stage of the lifecycle and what are the benefits?
It can be used to store feedback and make it accessible to students and staff. We can also use it to support self-reflection on a portfolio of work and dialogue around feedback, whether this is staff/student dialogue or peer to peer dialogue.
This can provide the following benefits:
- E-feedback improves the quality of feedback and consequently the self dependency of learners
- Peer review activities help students understand the process of making academic judgements
- Peer review activities can reduce staff workload
- E-portfolios can aid self-reflection and be used to present student skills to future employers
- Digital feedback permits forms of auditing and analysis that can support staff development planning
- Digitally available marks and feedback are prerequisites for various forms of learning analytics including assessment analytics.
What are the common problems?
It can be difficult to gain an overview of student feedback to support long term development. Feedback on individual assignments is generally stored at module level and it is difficult for students and tutors alike to get an overall view of feedback across a particular student's programme of study.
This is problematic for personal tutors who need to understand how students perform across a range of units but may not teach on any of those units and don'tt have access to any of the marks or feedback.
There is good research evidence to show that an effective combination of self-reflection and peer review may make the biggest difference to student learning and future employability (see our sections on peer review and student self-assessment and reflection).
In spite of this peer review activities are unfamiliar to many students and they can be uncomfortable with the approach. This is partly due to the notion that formal education is about learning from experts and students often don't value working with peers.
Academic staff often have concerns that giving better feedback and, more specifically engaging in dialogue around feedback, necessarily means more work. Our evidence suggests that where e-marking and e-feedback tools are used effectively, time is saved on more routine and repetitive elements of the process and this time can be used for giving better quality feedback and engaging in dialogue.
The use of generic feedback on common issues can save repeating the same comments many times.
What resources can help?
- Our video on reflecting on feedback shows how the University of Westminster improved student engagement with feedback by encouraging self-reflection.
- The University of Westminster's making assessment count project emphasised student self reflection. Supporting resources include a project report and the Feedback+ tool.
- The University of Dundee interACT project placed great emphasis on creating the conditions for dialogue around feedback and has produced a range of resources to help others
- Read our case study on using technology to promote feedback dialogue at the University of Dundee
- Sheffield Hallam University's 'Technology, Feedback, Action!' project generated a range of resources to help others improve student engagement with feedback.