Facilitating Timely Feedback in the Biomedical Sciences

Kay Colthorpe, Shaohong Liang, Kirsten Zimbardi

Abstract


Feedback is one of the most influential factors on student learning gains (Hattie & Timperley 2007). However, studies also show that when students do receive feedback it is often too brief, too broadly stated, and is often misinterpreted by students (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006; Stern & Solomon, 2006). Furthermore, evaluating the actual extent to which students engage with and utilise feedback is difficult.

This study evaluated a method of providing detailed, specific and timely feedback to allied health science students studying biomedical sciences in large class settings at a higher education institution in Australia. We investigated the extent and quality of feedback provided through analysis of annotated drafts, and examined how students interpreted and used the feedback received, by identifying how student work was modified in response to each item of feedback. This study has demonstrated that for feedback to elicit positive changes in student writing it must be specific, detailed and directed. The results indicate that the majority of the feedback given in the assignments analysed had a positive effect on subsequent student work, but also highlights that student responses to feedback can differ based on the type of feedback that is given.

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