Exploring the impact of formative feedback and drafts on final marks in a diploma level science report assessment


  • Kerry Aitken James Cook University
  • Carol Leza Conway James Cook University


feedback, scientific reports, assessment, science


The ability to communicate experimental findings in scientific report format is considered an essential skill for scientists but many undergraduate students struggle with mastering this skill. Many tertiary educators now provide science literacy resources and draft report feedback to support student success. Despite these efforts, it is often reported that students resist engaging with draft feedback. We investigated the impact of various formative draft feedback approaches to evaluate their outcomes on (i) student engagement and (ii) final report mark. It was hypothesised that embedding mandatory drafts and feedback interaction should lead to improved final report quality because students would be more engaged with a reflective feedback process. Draft and final report grades were analysed using R Studio. Data exploration and statistical testing were completed using ggplot2 and base R functions. The results did not consistently support the hypothesis that draft submission increased final report score. The combined mean report score for students who submitted or did not submit a draft was found to be similar overall (n = 640, t = 0.43, df = 639, p-value = 0.67). These results suggest that draft feedback does not of itself lead to improved student engagement with supplementary help resources or final report grade.

Author Biographies

Kerry Aitken, James Cook University

Learning Advisor - Learning and Teaching Development - Science and Numeracy, Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement

Carol Leza Conway, James Cook University

Lecturer – Diploma of Higher Education (Science) Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement.