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Bob Rotheram :: Blog :: First impressions

December 17, 2008


[Posted by Steve Dixon, Newman University College, Birmingham. Newman is a partner institution in Sounds Good 2.]

It's a few weeks now since we did the "first run" of audio feedback with our first years - a few weeks to allow us to catch our breath, look back and reflect on what we did. So what can I say? Initial responses to audio feedback, from both staff and students, have been overwhelmingly positive. Students particularly liked the informal nature of the feedback (particularly pertinent when bearing in mind that they are first years and the importance of retention rates these days), with comments like "It felt like the tutor was in the room there with you" being not uncommon. Interestingly, the (very) few negative comments from students were regarding the quality of the feedback itself, and not the medium - definitely something to bear in mind.

Staff were also generally positive, and comments tended to follow the patterns predicted by Bob in his helpful advice. Virtually all staff felt that the process saved them time, and, obviously, those who were more familiar with the technology felt much more comfortable with the process. Staff training sessions on the equipment generally went very well, and I think we'll keep these ongoing, so that familiarity breeds ease of use. Our turnaround time for marking (something that our Exams and Assessments Office keeps close tabs on) was markedly reduced.

It would be interesting to see if the move to audio has led to any change in the levels of engagement that students have with feedback. A common perception here at Newman is that students are only interested in their marks, and often don't read or only skim the feedback given to them for assignments. A first reading of their comments would suggest so, and as our students are now clamouring for more audio feedback in other modules, this may be something to take further...

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