It is well established that the provision of timely and useful feedback has significant potential to support and improve student learning (Merry, et al., 2013; Sadler, 2010). Moreover, in the context of supporting transition, effective feedback can play a pivotal role in fostering student motivation, confidence, and success in the first year, as well as in improving retention rates (Kift, 2015; Nicol, 2009; Tinto, 2005). In recent years, feedback has increasingly become the focus of research and Higher Education (HE) policy, partly due to national surveys in the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and Asia which have consistently identified low levels of student satisfaction about feedback practices (Carless, 2006; HEFCE, 2015; Radloff & Coates, 2010). Mirroring international findings, successive Irish Student Engagement Surveys (ISSE) revealed concerns surrounding feedback practices, particularly in relation to first year (2014; 2015).
The Y1Feedback project is a collaborative initiative between four Irish HE institutions and funded by the Irish National Forum for the Enhancement in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The project aims to enhance feedback dialogue in first year undergraduate programmes through the use of technology-enabled feedback approaches in order to better support student transition to HE.
A synthesis of feedback literature revealed contemporary perspectives on feedback in HE highlight that feedback should: take place in formal and informal learning settings beyond assessment, feedforward to future work, and be a dialogic process that ultimately supports learners to become self-regulating (Y1Feedback 2016). Furthermore, in the context of the first year, is also essential to scaffold the development of students’ assessment and feedback literacies as they adjust to the challenges of learning in HE.
Informed by the international scholarship on feedback, Y1Feedback identified a set of features of effective feedback for first year together with a set of feedback approaches. Identified approaches include:
• In-class and real-time feedback approaches
• Multi-stage assignments
• Peer feedback
• Multi-modal enabled feedback
• Generic feedback
• Anticipatory approaches to feedback
• Separating grades and feedback
• Exemplars, rubrics and marking guides
• Automated feedback
• Programme team approaches
Subsequently, and in partnership with academic staff across the four partner institutions, we explored and trialed the identified feedback approaches through 24 feedback case studies. This research presentation will outline the features and approaches identified, discuss the findings from a selection of the case studies, and share key reflections on the project.