External event report: Fifth International Assessment in Higher Education Conference

Stuart Hepplestone, Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), shares feedback on a recent conference on Assessment in Higher Education: 

In June, Helen Parkin, Senior Lecturer in Research and Evaluation, and I attended the Fifth International Assessment in Higher Education Conference to present research findings around connections that students make between feedback and their future learning.  It was a useful opportunity to network with the wider HE sector around assessment and feedback initiatives and share the ongoing work of the Assessment Journey Programme. 200 delegates attended from 17 countries.  There are two key areas of discussion that I thought would be useful to share with SHU colleagues.

Increasing student engagement with and learning from feedback, or satisfying student demand?
Papers and posters reported on the interventions that both individuals and institutions are trialling and implementing to enhance the assessment and feedback experience for staff and students. There was an ‘err on the side of caution’ among delegates as to whether these initiatives are increasing student engagement with, and learning from, feedback.  Or, are they simply satisfying student demands for quicker and more detailed forms of feedback. There was also a change of focus in research from looking at specific feedback or interventions, to investigating individual student attitudes and behaviours as a factor influencing their engagement with feedback.

What do other institutions make of e-marking, and what do students think of screencast feedback?
I have written a report sharing information from the sessions I attended during the conference. There are a couple of sessions that might be of particular interest. A colleague from the University of Nottingham reported on an investigation at a previous institution around the staff perspective of e-marking. The focus was on the transformative approach of the marker, and provided a recommended transformational model to the adoption of e-marking. A colleague from Manchester Metropolitan University reported on a comparison of screencast and written feedback to establish undergraduate student preferences. Over 75 per cent of students indicated a strong preference for screencast feedback, feeling it provided more detailed and helpful feedback as opposed to written feedback. However, there was a question over their engagement as they didn’t want to spend the length of the recording (20 mins) watching and listening to the feedback.