An investigation into the reasons why students do not collect marked assignments and the accompanying feedback
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AbstractThe major role played by assessment and feedback in any programme cannot be underestimated. It is through the process of assessment design that course/module learning outcomes are met and as a consequence student learning may be measured. Alongside the importance of assessment runs the value and effectiveness of feedback. In this study feedback is defined as commentaries made in respect of written assignment work. Rowntree’s (1987) seminal text about assessment provides a dramatic, yet highly pertinent claim that feedback “ is the life blood of learning”. The importance of assessment and feedback as a research focus continues to dominate the thinking behind designing appropriate and effective solutions to measure and support learning (Higgins, 2001; Mutch, 2003; Black and Wiliam, 2003; Rust et al 2003). So, why is it that some students do not collect assignment work and therefore cannot benefit from this supposed ‘transfusion’ for learning? Anecdotal evidence from within the School of Education would suggest that there is a small, but persistent, percentage of uncollected assignment work every year. The authors believed that such stories and figures would probably be mirrored within the School of Education and would be echoed across the University. This potential problem prompted the study to find out the extent of the actual problem. The issue of uncollected work and feedback may have consequences for student learning because students are unable to capitalise on any feedback or commentary provided by the tutor. In addition, the issue has particular implications for tutorial time, in terms of time spent writing feedback. This can be frustrating for tutors, who may have taken a great deal of time and thought in providing feedback, which is likely to be tailored to the individual needs of that particular student. The literature discussed with the findings tends to focus on the somewhat narrower dimensions of assessment and feedback, circumventing the larger picture of assessment processes within the wider arena of Higher Education. The report accepts as a given that within the University of Wolverhampton the outcomes based curriculum model is the prevalent design approach, and that alternative curriculum models may be used in other H. E. Institutions. The authors are cognisant that the lack of discussion around the possible influences of current curriculum models influencing H.E. programmes and modules, and consequently their impact on and for assessment and feedback, may pose a significant deficit in the scope of the background reading and discussion. However, as with any curriculum model, the process stands or falls on all the component parts working in synchronisation. If students are not involved or engaged in curriculum design and operation, including assessment processes, a few may feel disenfranchised. This may be a key reason why students neglect to collect assignment work.
CitationCELT Learning and Teaching Projects 2003/04
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
DescriptionReport of a CELT project on supporting students through innovation and research