The effective feedback challenge: how to begin developing self-regulated learners

Gramcheva, Lyubomira ORCID: (2020) The effective feedback challenge: how to begin developing self-regulated learners. In: Universal design: meeting the challenges of teaching and learning in 21st century higher education. Byrom, Tina, ed. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. . [Book Section] (Accepted/In press)


The importance of formative feedback for improving student learning is widely accepted (Biggs, 1999; Hyland, 2000; Higgins et al., 2002; Yorke, 2003) and evidence of its benefits abounds (Black and Wiliam, 1998). Formative feedback is considered vital for stimulating “deep learning” (Biggs, 1999; Higgins et al., 2002) and maximising learning gains (Black and Wiliam, 1998). Adopting a constructivist perspective, modern approaches to feedback no longer view students as passive receivers of transmitted information but position them as actively involved in generating, making sense of and using feedback (Black and Wiliam, 1998; Sadler, 1998; Ivanic et al., 2000; Boud, 2000; Yorke, 2003). The most recent model of formative feedback rethinks it in terms of the processes of self-regulated learning: as students monitor their interactions with the task and assess their progress, they generate internal feedback; they also actively construct their own interpretation of external feedback (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). Such reconceptualization of feedback as a tool to support learning processes has profound implications on the strategies that Higher Education teachers need to adopt to enhance the effectiveness of their feedback. If students are assumed to have an active, rather than reactive role in feedback processes, the focus should be not only on the quality of information delivered by teachers’ feedback but also on developing students’ ability to assess their own learning (Boud, 2000; Yorke, 2003). Indeed, conceiving ways, including through feedback, to promote students’ capacity to self-regulate and integrating them consistently in the education process is one of the challenges of teaching and learning in 21st century Higher Education. This challenge is even bigger when it comes to students at the beginning of their programme who are preoccupied with adopting the way of thinking in the new discipline rather than with questioning their study habits (Norton, 2009). Yet, it is suggested that taking up this challenge is essential not only if teachers are to provide more effective feedback but also if they are to deal efficiently with increasing class sizes and soaring workloads (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006).

This case study presents an example of redesigning feedback procedures so that they are better directed toward developing self-regulated learners. It draws on my work as a tutor in the Contract Law module at the Nottingham University Law School during the first term of the 2016/2017 and 2018/2019 academic years. Although the assessment design of the module incorporated many opportunities for formative feedback that placed significant demands on the tutors’ time and energy, the module team, i.e. the convenor and 5-6 tutors (including myself), was dissatisfied with the results. It was this dissatisfaction that prompted this personal project whose aim was to explore how the students perceived the feedback I gave them, evaluate the feedback practice within the module and implement measures to enhance my feedback effectiveness while at the same time (ideally) reduce workload. Early evaluation of results shows that consistently structuring feedback to support self-regulated learning has positive impact on students’ learning while decreasing teachers’ amount of work.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
Item ID: 30329
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Depositing User: Lyuba Gramcheva
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2020 11:58
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2020 09:54

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