Feeding forward from summative assessment: The Essay Feedback Checklist as a learning tool

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Submitted by Samantha Mladen

Article Reference

Wakefield, C., Adie, J., Pitt, E., & Owens, T. (2014). Feeding forward from summative assessment: The Essay Feedback Checklist as a learning tool. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(2), 253-262.

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Summary of Article

Aim: Investigate the use of the Essay Feedback Checklist (EFC) as a strategy to provide feedback to students that improves future performance on other forms of assessment

Method: 104 second year undergraduate sport studies students were recruited and randomized to a feedback-as-usual condition or an experimental condition with receipt of feedback via the Essay Feedback Checklist on a 2,500 word essay. The EFC requires students to rate their performance prior to submission of their assignment. The same checklist is then used by assessors and any significant discrepancies in scores are explained in additional feedback comments to the student. Students can also request additional feedback on specific domains. Randomization condition was assessed as a predictor of performance on a future assignment in the same subject area, but of a different format (knowledge test). Four students volunteered to take part in a subsequent focus group about the EFC process.

Repeated measures ANOVA demonstrated a significant group x assessment effect: students who received standard feedback had a decrease in score from 49.29 +/- 12.06 to 44.00 +/- 15.08. Students receiving EFC feedback increased in score from 50.11 +/- 11.51 to 56.85 +/- 17.74 on the subsequent assignment. Qualitative feedback revealed themes of advantages and disadvantages of the EFC, method of self-assessment, and perceived usefulness for future assessments. Students enjoyed the individualized nature of feedback, especially that assessors responded to the types of feedback specifically requested by students. Some students felt that the EFC hurt their morale, especially when they disagreed with scores given by assessors or when they felt that they did not understand the terminology used by assessors or the rubric. A primary benefit was improvement in students’ learning, including taking time to correct their assignment before turning it in and also adjusting for future assessments.

Discussion: The EFC demonstrated success “feeding forward” learning. Students appreciated many aspects of the procedure, but also raised some concerns, including morale and trust between students and assessors. These challenges offer opportunities for future improvements to the EFC.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your goal in providing feedback to students? How does this influence what form of feedback you offer?
  2. How could the EFC be implemented in courses that don't use essays? How could the principles of the EFC be adapted for other types of assignments?
  3. Focus group participants in this study indicated that the form negatively impacted their morale. How could this be avoided, while still engaging students in the feedback process?