Internal Feedback

The journal article was called ’The power of internal feedback: exploiting natural comparison processes’.  The article made the case for capitalising on a student’s natural comparisons that they already make and helping them to develop their own internal feedback capacity. They explore the benefits of using a blend of both analogical and analytical comparisons to generate the best internal feedback.  The aim is to give students the tools to develop their skills and abilities further whilst also reducing teacher workload.

The group welcomed the opportunity to think a little differently about feedback which is something they each spent a considerable amount of time giving.  The model (figure 1: Pg3) highlighted comparison as the mechanism for internal feedback.  The model was considered a little inelegant by the group and did not consider some important issues such as lack of student engagement in the feedback process, students comparing with other students and getting the wrong information, students with different capabilities and motivation who engage differently.  Also, the students who were proactive in engaging with the feedback process were more than likely already making the most of internal and external feedback opportunities as the model suggests.

The use of ‘analogical’ comparisons was considered important and something that is often overlooked in the feedback process.  The group discussed ways they had utilised analogical comparisons during teaching and learning activities and examples included: use of RM Compare to give peer feedback which also has the potential to peer rank work; asking students to write 500 words which are compared with other students or the marking criteria and then re-writing their 500 words; and use of PeerWise to openly discuss assessment questions or elements of a course with other peers. Although there is a danger of students formulating the wrong answer based on thoughts from their peers, many students distrust peer feedback which provides the opportunity to check and re-think answers from other sources like textbooks.  It was noted that some students engaged in peer feedback in safe or functional areas i.e. commenting on grammar and presentation; the challenge is to engage in peer feedback in more complex areas of the curriculum.

The group moved on to discuss copying and the way this is encouraged as an approach to learn in certain areas, for example, to be a better scientist or musician but this is not allowed for students who could end up committing academic malpractice. They concluded that the idea of copying  in this former sense was distinct in enabling individuals to take inspiration to improve and develop.

The take home messages from the participants of the journal club at the end of the session were as follows:

  • To consider challenging students further when using peer marking by directing feedback towards more difficult marking criteria around, for example, critical analysis and interpretation, rather than just presentation.
  • To consider how to broaden students’ thinking about what constitutes feedback so that both the analogical and analytical comparisons come through on the NSS feedback question.
  • To get smarter with marking and feedback to reduce the academic burden without diminishing feedback for students.
  • To look at ways of utilising peer feedback in a positive way; consider how to use their habitual comparisons to achieve pedagogy goals
  • To try to get students to understand feedback and reflection in a way that enables them to formulate feedback for themselves. We need to give them comparators so they don’t just think of feedback as, for example, teacher comments.
  • Acknowledging the role of the learner as an individual, with their own thoughts, feelings and confidence levels, in the feedback process. We need to make the reflection process explicit and that might build on the whole process.

Continue the conversation through our Yammer Pedagogy Journal Club.