Developing feedback literacy: case studies from multiple disciplines – CRADLE Seminar Series #3: Review by Juan Fischer Rodriguez

In this post, Juan Fischer Rodriguez, CRADLE PhD Student, reviews our latest seminar and highlights the research outcomes of CRADLE’s Development Partners scheme.

Seminar #3 of CRADLE’s 2022 Seminar Series got us talking about feedback literacy and some outcomes of the CRADLE Development Partners scheme. The scheme was launched in 2019 and seeks to support collaboration between researchers and educators to implement innovative pedagogies across all faculties at Deakin University. Dr Kelli Nicola-Richmond and Dr Christine Contessotto are two of the current Development Partners, and in this seminar they presented the results of two intervention projects.

CRADLE’s Associate Director, Professor Phillip Dawson, started the seminar with an introduction to the topic of feedback literacy, contextualising it in the shift of understandings of feedback from provision of information by teachers to students making sense of information from diverse sources. Professor Dawson also gave an overview of recent developments in feedback literacy. These include the theoretical model by Carless & Boud (2018), the empirically based model of Molloy et. al. (2020), and the Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit by Winstone & Nash (2016). Despite these developments, Professor Dawson argued that the research is missing reports from discipline-based interventions, to which the Development Partners scheme responds.

Intervention 1

Dr Kelli Nicola-Richmond reported the results of an intervention in a final-year occupational therapy unit. This study showed some improvements in students’ feedback literacy after workshop interventions, although with mixed forms of engagement with feedback information, which included tokenistic and superficial approaches to feedback. The key messages from these interventions were that:

  • if we want feedback literate students, we need to deliberately support their feedback literacy,
  • quality in feedback information is still important, and
  • feedback can be emotionally challenging.

The results from this study are further explained in Nicola-Richmond et. al. (2021).

Intervention 2

Dr Christine Contessotto reported on a quasi-experimental intervention in three accounting units. While this study faced challenges with the number of participants, it found the respondents were indeed using and keeping a record of written feedback comments from teachers and peers. However, it also found respondents perceive a lack of consistency between assessors and lack of relevance of feedback for subsequent tasks. This study showed that students may be making judgements about the quality of feedback comments, reinforcing one of the key messages from Dr Nicola-Richmond’s presentation about the importance of quality feedback information.

Dr Joanna Tai concluded this seminar with a reflection on the Development Partners scheme, which in its 2021 version has now included work on inclusion in assessment and higher education. The three main lessons of this initiative have been that:

  1. collaborating in innovative educational approaches is easier than working alone,
  2. achievable goals are important, and
  3. everything takes longer than one may think!

A key message that can be drawn from these presentations and the Q&A that followed is that more research on feedback literacy interventions is needed, particularly emphasising the role of students as ‘masters of their own learning’ and going beyond feedback approaches that continue putting teachers’ comments at the centre of the process. Moreover, feedback literacy research needs to consider aspects of psychological safety, equity, and students previous experiences of feedback.

If you are interested in watching or listening to the seminar, including the Q&A, please feel free to access the recording via the CRADLE YouTube channel.

Don’t forget, CRADLE Seminar Series #4: New directions for feedback seeking research and practice by Professor David Carless will be held on Tuesday 3 May 2022 at 2pm. Be part of the event by registering here.

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