This project, which has been funded by the TQEF at Northumbria University, aims to create, use, evaluate and disseminate practical ways to deliver timely, usable real-time feedback to large classes of students in ‘soft’ (Nelson Laird et al, 2013) disciplinary areas. The aim is to encourage students to engage with feedback- seeing not only how they’re doing but also ways to improve their work- before the module assessment is handed in.
Published studies have tended to focus on ‘hard’ disciplinary areas, such as engineering, physics or environmental science (see, for example, Nicol et al, 2014) where, for instance, classroom response systems or ‘clickers’ can be used to generate ‘instant’ feedback on students’ knowledge, skills and abilities, which are called into play via quizzes and problem-solving activities undertaken in the context of large-lectures. This particular approach, however, doesn’t self-evidently lend itself to the pedagogies which characterise many ‘soft’ disciplines, such as literature or social work.
To begin to address this, the project generated and explored case studies of alternative forms of real-time feedback, focused around engaging students in reviewing exemplars, which can be created and activated in lectures associated with writing-intensive ‘soft’ courses, especially when working with large class sizes of 50 or more students.