TFA! Conclusions



This study has explored the use of technology to support students' engagement with their feedback. Three interventions were explored; the online publication of grades and feedback through the Blackboard Grade Centre; the adaptive release of grades through Assignment Handler; and linking feedback to assessment criteria using the Feedback Wizard. Whilst the study looked at the use of these three tools, the findings are transferable to the interventions more generally, regardless of the tool used to achieve it.


The study concludes that the availability of feedback stored online for future reference augmented by the opportunity for, and expectation of, further dialogue provides the greatest benefit to future learning. The flexibility afforded by publishing feedback online enables students to read and respond to feedback when they are emotionally ready, and in relative privacy. It also enables them to store their feedback alongside the rest of their online learning materials and activities, and unlike hardcopy feedback they are more likely to go back to this when completing future assignments.


The study also found that under normal circumstances, students read their feedback and do attempt to retain the information for future assignments, although not formally. The process of adaptive release encourages students to read their feedback and reflect on it before obtaining their grade and the students' interviewed appreciated the potential benefits of disengaging the grade from the feedback. However many were unfamiliar with this adaptive release approach highlighting the importance of explaining the process fully. The most benefit was gained where students understood the process and the purpose. The study noted that whilst students liked to get their feedback and grade at the same time or very close together, they valued the learning benefits of having to engage with the feedback before the grade was released. Where grades were made available before the feedback, the feedback itself was not valued as having additional learning benefit. 


The online publication of grades and feedback and the adaptive release of grades were found to significantly enhance students' engagement with their feedback. Often, logistical benefits such as online storage of feedback, led to greater learning benefits such as repeated viewing of feedback. Linking feedback to assessment criteria, while effective in enabling students to identify strengths and weaknesses at a glance and helping to identify learning targets, was less effective in terms of enhancing engagement with feedback. Students also expressed a competing preference for 'in context' feedback so feedback grids were seen as most useful when presented alongside annotated transcripts.


The study identified a series of recommendations around the use of technology to enhance student engagement with their feedback. These evidence-based recommendations will be published as a series of good practice guides aimed at academic staff, students and senior managers. We believe that technology has the potential to significantly enhance learning. These guides will show how technology can be used to its full advantage to help students make the most of their feedback.