Fostering Engagement with Feedback: from ‘barely perused’ to ‘proactively used’

On Wednesday 8th of November Dr Naomi Winstone, Lecturer in Cognitive and Educational Psychology & Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching at the University of Surrey, visited Newcastle to deliver a talk as part of the ERDP seminar series.  The focus of the session was Naomi’s recent work looking at student engagement with feedback.

Her work is embedded in the context of recent efforts by many educators to respond to the student voice calling for “better” feedback but seeks to address why, despite these efforts, many departments still face NSS results that indicate persistent student dissatisfaction.  Naomi and her collaborators have sought to understand this phenomenon in terms of student engagement with feedback.

In experimental situations Naomi and her colleagues have shown that students are more likely to remember evaluative rather than instructive comments which suggests that students are not as good at recalling the parts of their feedback that they might feed-forward into future pieces of work.  Naomi argued that findings such as these indicate the need to foster skills in students that allow them to become ‘proactive recipients’ of feedback not only as essential abilities for their educational journeys but also beyond.

Naomi presented The Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit that she has developed alongside Dr Rob Nash for the HEA which provides educators with resources developed in collaboration with students to facilitate their proactive engagement with feedback.

The audience was very receptive to Naomi’s work and whilst voicing some thoughts about how the experimental findings would be replicated in real assessment settings there was a strong consensus about the need to understand feedback as dialogue rather than unidirectional and to ensure educators and students spoke the same “feedback language”. On the back of this seminar session the School of Psychology’s Educational Research in Psychology (ERiP) group has instigated a number of research collaborations with Naomi to start in the new year.

Dr Amy Fielden, School of Psychology

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