Dr David Walker, Politics Senior Tutor
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology
Humanities and Social Sciences
What did you do?
We produced a booklet called ‘The Politics Guide to Assessment and Feedback’ for distribution to all undergraduate politics students. The Guide provides information about the different forms of assessment used in Politics, assessment criteria, the marking process, progression and degree classifications, hand-in and return of work dates, different forms of feedback available, advice on how to get the most from feedback, and an FAQ section.
The booklet is one of a series of Politics guides we are in the process of creating. These cover such things as referencing (completed already), essay writing and student wellbeing (first drafts completed of both), and exams and revision (planned).
Who is involved?
The Head of Politics (HoP) and Politics Degree Programme Director (DPD) worked on the booklet in collaboration with an undergraduate (UG) student, who was tasked with the designing and drafting of it as part of work experience she did for her Career Development Module.
How do you do it?
The Politics DPD recruited an UG student to produce the booklet. She researched information on Politics and University policies and practices relating to assessment and feedback, and consulted with students, and the Student-Staff Committee (SSC) in particular, to see what students wanted to be included. She then produced a draft, which was circulated to select students for feedback, and was subsequently rewritten, largely to make the language more student-friendly (a notable problem was that the language used in University and Politics documents was not reader-friendly).
The HoP and Politics DPD also had input, and the former used his IT and creative skills to produce the design layout. We then produced copies of the booklet to be left in the Student Common Room, sent it round to all students by email, and posted it on Blackboard.
Why do you do it?
We were aware from various sources, such as the Student-Staff Committee and the National Student Survey (NSS), that feedback in particular was an area where we could do better. One thing that became apparent was that students didn’t always recognise what feedback was, or know how to make the most of it.
Students tended to have a very narrow view of what feedback was, seeing it as essentially just the comments written on their marked essays. In particular, students didn’t always view presubmission feedback as feedback, and often didn’t take advantage of this kind of feedback. Given the close link between feedback and assessment, it made sense to address both together.
Does it work?
We haven’t carried out a survey to see how it’s been received, and it’s too soon to tell in terms of the NSS (even if feedback scores improved, it would be difficult to tell to what extent, if any, the booklet was a factor, partly because we’re looking to improve feedback in other ways). However, the SSC and individual students have said they think it’s useful, and we will continue to use it, and improve it.