(Session) Marking coursework ‘face-to-face’ with the student: a win-win situation

Charlotte Chalmers (School of Life, Sport & Social Sciences) and Elaine Mowat (Academic Professional Development)

We wanted to assess the effectiveness of giving feedback by marking student essays “face to face”. Students had the option of having their essay marked with the tutor (which could be recorded), or of receiving written feedback in the traditional way. Evaluation was undertaken by focus group, and by a follow up one to one interview in the subsequent trimester to establish whether the feedback from face to face marking was more memorable than written feedback.

All students were offered the opportunity to sign up for one 15 minute session with any of 3 tutors on the module. Their essay was then read and marked by the tutor, with the tutor explaining the marking and areas of improvement. At the end of the session, the student took their marked work away with them. They also had the option of receiving a recording of the meeting. Later that semester students who had received face to face feedback, and some who received written feedback, were asked to attend a focus group at which discussion about the experience was recorded. The following semester, a selection of students were invited back for an interview at which the researcher specifically asked how much of the feedback had been retained.

There is little in the literature which indicates how useful or otherwise this method of marking might be (Good, 1978), but frequently staff find that they put hours into marking and giving written feedback with little evidence of effectiveness (Price et al, 2010), whilst students also express dissatisfaction with written feedback (Orsmond and Merry, 2011). Dowden et al (2011) identify that feedback should be a two way process, and using this system of marking provides more opportunity for that to take place. This study aimed to investigate, by means of focus groups and structured interviews, the views of students who were given either face to face feedback, or written feedback.

The students who took part in the face to face feedback expressed their satisfaction with the process despite some of them being a little nervous prior to meeting with the member of staff marking their work. They all mentioned the benefit of being able to ask questions about their feedback, and that they really appreciated direct contact with lecturers and having the opportunity to be able to make better sense of their feedback. Students felt that they remembered the feedback because they were given the opportunity to ask for more detail and to have a dialogue with their marker.

All three members of staff who took part in the study were very positive about the experience, saying that they found the time used to mark the essays was much better spent in talking the student through the marking process. They all intend to do the same in the future for his module, and would investigate using a similar system in other modules, although recognise that it is not always practical.

This workshop will explore how to make feedback efficient, effective and enjoyable. It is a participative event and an opportunity to share experiences in making feedback effective.

Theoretical underpinning
Good, H (1978). Interview Marking of Examination Scripts. Assessment in Higher Education 3(2): 122-138

Price M, Handley K, Millar J, O’Donovan B (2010). Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 35(3): 277-289. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930903541007

Orsmond P and Merry S (2011). Feedback alignment: effective and ineffective links between tutors’ and students’ understanding of course feedback. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 36 (2): 125-136. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930903201651

Dowden T, Pittaway S, Yost H, McCarthy R (2011). Students’ perceptions of written feedback in teacher education: ideally feedback is a continuing two-way communication that encourages progress. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education: 1-14 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2011.632676