Barriers to effective feedback: Student and Staff perspectives

Jessica Gibbons, Scott Clarke

Abstract


This study aimed to understand how staff and students in a large Biomedical Sciences course conceive of feedback, and to examine existing barriers to effective feedback practices. Students (n = 1003) and Teaching Associates (n = 57; TAs) were anonymously surveyed about their views. Biomedicine academic staff (n = 5) and students (n = 3) participating in semi-structured interviews to expand on key themes.

Participants expressed a traditional view of feedback as a ‘transmissive’ process. Within this view, they each identified different but interrelated barriers to effective feedback. In addition to logistical concerns of large cohorts, staff reported a lack of confidence in the TAs ability to provide feedback. This was also reflected in TAs reporting that they are not confident in providing ‘critical’ comments as they view students lack resilience and openness to feedback. Students reported that feedback on their work didn’t adequately, or personally address how they could improve. They also indicated a lack of opportunities to receive and utilise feedback. Academics and students identified that the majority of feedback in the course was relegated to summative feedback; disconnected from subsequent learning experiences. Together, these factors exemplify a series of misconnections reducing the capacity to practice effective feedback.

Keywords


Feedback, biomedicine, staff, students

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