In 2010 we started a campaign to improve feedback on assessment and exams from the university after overwhelming dissatisfaction from the National Student Survey results, research done by Kent Union and opinion expressed across the student body. Kent Union launched two consultations named ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ which can be read here and here and received over 1500 survey responses as well as mass engagement with students in other ways. This was achieved through emails, online campaigning and posters but the most submissions were collected through the course representative system, with many course reps taking large stacks of paper forms into lectures. The consultations were submitted to our Learning and Teaching Board as well as nearly every Student Staff Liaison Committee and Faculty Learning and Teaching committees, where course reps lobbied locally on the issue and achieved many wins for their coursemates.
These are all the wins that have been made from the ‘Good, the Bad & the Ugly campaign’ that affect the whole university. Over the next few weeks I will be able to also publish many more individual changes that academic schools are making in addition to these. I’m really pleased with the sheer amount of changes that lecturers and management have made to try to improve on the feedback experience for students and I hope we begin to see some real impact on students from them.
- University agreed to return of coursework to students from three term time weeks to three calendar weeks except where there are holidays and it must be returned by the first Monday of the next term.
- Moved agreement on coursework being returned within three weeks from Student Charter into University Code of Practice.
- A new feedback coversheet has been implemented in Humanities and other departments in the university with more schools looking into implementing coversheets.
- One on one feedback was implemented in the Humanities faculty and other faculties are rolling this out after the faculty produced a ‘Best Practice’ guide for delivering one on one feedback policy.
- All faculties will provide a variety of annotated example assignments to students giving an explanation on each of how the author achieved the grade and the areas for improvement as well as anonymous ‘first class’, ‘typical’ and ‘poor’ answers.
- Schools will provide breakdowns of marking schemes.
- Schools will provide model answers that are based on technique and structure.
- In the faculty of Sciences the Directors of Learning and Teaching have been asked to report to the faculty Dean about how to address the wide variation of the quality of feedback and how it is managed.
- A traffic light system was trialled in schools in the Sciences to ensure that feedback is provided within the agreed 3 weeks. Through this system all course work is returned by the academics through the admin office where it is logged before being returned to the students. The admin office holds a spreadsheet of all the individual items of course with deadlines against each individual member of staff. A summary of this is sent out to staff each week indicating the ‘traffic light system’ (green for not due yet, amber for due in the next week and red for overdue). This system has ensured that 97% of work was returned within 3 weeks, and the 3% were one or two days late. This system will be rolled out across other schools with guidance from the sciences.
- Exam feedback will be provided to all students who request it.
- Working groups have been set up in each school in Social Sciences with student representatives to establish how to improve feedback on assessment.
- To develop an exam feedback policy for each school working groups will be set up in each school with course representatives and a central group with members of Learning and Teaching Board and the Vice-President (Education) will overlook this centrally and ensure that it is in keeping with students’ needs.
Original campaign objectives around assessment:
- All academic schools to provide feedback on every assessment via the recommended cover sheet.
- Students should have access to face-to-face feedback for a least the first piece of assessment each academic year.
- Work should be done to ensure that feedback is timely and within the three week policy.
- Students should be given the choice of format for feedback.
- Students should be able to submit assessment electronically.
- Anonymous marking should be considered for all summative assessment.
- The provision of model answers should be considered to help grow understanding of marking criteria.
- The provision of exam scripts with comment sheets should be implemented.
- Generic feedback to groups should be considered and also optional seminars to discuss feedback.
Original campaign objectives around exams:
- Exam feedback should be provided to all students.
- Provision of personalised comments on exam scripts should be considered.
- Schools should consider providing generic feedback to students, either through seminars/open sessions discussing exams that have already been sat, highlighting frequent mistakes or in written form, accounting common mistakes and what can be done to rectify them.
- One on one feedback sessions with tutors could be made available with individuals who request it.
- Schools should make available model answers, and previous exam papers that have been annotated with a breakdown of the marking scheme.