Is this ‘what do we mean by feedback’ stuff more than semantics? I think that it is, but I also think that the situation is exacerbated by the fact that neither we nor our students really know what we mean by the word ‘feedback’. I’m reminded of a discussion, a few years ago, at a meeting with colleagues from Sheffield Hallam University, when we were working together on the FAST (Formative Assessment in Science Teaching) Project.
I had just discovered that Open University students occasionally said that ‘they have not received any feedback’ on interactive computer-marked assignments, when they had been told whether each question was correctly answered or not and given hints on what they might do to improve their incorrect answers. The significant point is that they had not been told their overall mark for the assignment or the module.
Meanwhile, at Sheffield Hallam, they had realised that students did not consider ‘corridor conversations’ with their lecturers as feedback, even when they were discussing the student’s performance on an assignment. Teaching yes, feedback no.
Assessment (f)or learning?