Thoughts from the CRADLE & DER International Symposium 2018

One feature of the joint international symposium ‘The Impact of Feedback in Higher Education’ was the mix of eminent and emerging scholars from the field of feedback research. The group was not too small, but also not too large, such that there were true conversations and interaction between participants. In particular, a small number of doctoral students were invited to contribute to the discussion. This blog post and the next feature reflections from two attendees: Rachelle Esterhazy, who visited CRADLE in 2017 and is almost ready to submit her thesis for examination; and Lasse Jensen, who commenced his cotutelle doctoral program (with CRADLE and the University of Copenhagen) at the end of 2017.

From left: Rachelle Esterhazy, Joanna Tai, Edd Pitt. Rachelle and Edd are listening as Joanna speaks.

From left: Rachelle Esterhazy, Joanna Tai, Edd Pitt. Photo: Michael Henderson

Both Rachelle and Lasse write about the valuable learning they took away from the symposium, and how it has impacted on their thinking around feedback and research. I myself gained a deeper understanding of the current issues in feedback research, not least definitional dilemmas. How culture and practice shape our conceptions of feedback were also key ideas I distilled from the conference, including the employment of metaphors. Understanding how we can initiate learners into feedback and help them develop their feedback practices also seemed to me to be a key challenge for the field – and perhaps the subject of a future symposium!

For the moment, though, here is Rachelle’s reflection on the 2018 symposium:

The CRADLE symposium on ‘feedback impact’ was an incredibly valuable learning experience for me. Being in the final stage of my PhD project in which I explore relational aspects that matter for productive feedback practices in higher education, the symposium provided important insights for my thesis. One of my main takeaways is the idea that it is important to turn towards feedback cultures and practices instead of focusing merely on the impact of isolated feedback events on the individual. Consequently, feedback impact becomes a question of creating feedback-rich environments and supporting learners in navigating and making meaning of these environments. The rich discussions around these issues resonated well with my thesis work in which I focused especially on the relations between different ways of integrating feedback in course designs and the ways students engage with feedback during the semester.

Check in next week for Lasse‘s post, in which research metaphors become reality…

Feature image: Michael Henderson.

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