Conditions that support effective assessment feedback in higher education.

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 41: [Re] Valuing Higher Education

July, 2018, 266 pages
Published by
Dale Wache and Don Houston

Feedback practices represent a significant investment in resources and emotion for educators and students. While there are pockets of excellence, research continues to highlight that feedback practices cannot be simply parachuted from one context to another and be expected to work just as effectively. This paper presents twelve underlying conditions that support effective feedback, and has stemmed from an extensive 18-month Australian government funded project. This large scale mixed-method project was innovative by adopting a socioecological perspective, seeking the broader contextual and historical factors that shaped, supported and inhibited effective feedback. Phase 1 involved a large scale survey (n = 4920) and focus groups (n=43) with staff and students from two Australian universities to identify effective practices. Phase 2 explored seven case studies of effective feedback from Phase 1 data, and involved interviews with 34 staff and students. Phase 3 involved the iterative development of the framework of effective feedback. This framework was further honed through workshops with 295 academic staff and roundtables with 66 senior university leaders at seven Australian universities. Phase 4 involved a survey of academic staff and senior leaders (n = 250) from 39 Australian universities, in which the twelve conditions were evaluated. The final conditions reported in this paper provide institutions, leaders, and educators with innovative and empirically grounded guidance regarding how to enhance capacity for feedback, improve feedback designs, and foster effective feedback cultures.

Keywords: assessment feedback, effective feedback practices, higher education