Use of tablets computers to provide annotated digital feedback (2014)

Andrew Garrard

Digital assignment submission and feedback is more convenient and accessible for students (particularly part time students), provides a secure and traceable receipting method for the work and reduces the environment/financial cost of paper based assignments. A traditional computer can provide various methods of digital feedback, such as typed, video or audio. However, feedback to technical engineering reports benefit from the ability to produce sketches to illustrates physical principles, which is difficult to produce using a mouse and the results are often poor. A range of tablet computer, manufactured by Samsung, under the brand name “Galaxy Note” provide a stylus capable of producing very precise annotations onto pdf documents. The aim of the study is to assess if the use of this technology to provide annotated digital feedback to a technical engineering assignment is of greater value to the students than other forms of feedback that they have received previously. Three level 5 modules, delivered to Aerospace, Mechanical, Energy and Automotive Engineers, all with a similar styles of assignment, will trial this method of digital feedback.  The value the students gain from this method of feedback will be assessed by requesting they complete a short survey.  The combination of modules contains approximately 250 students, so even a modest return rate should produce a statistically significant result. While randomly assigning each student to receive either the annotated digital feedback or traditional typed feedback and then surveying the students would produce a more controlled study, providing all students with the annotated digital feedback and asking students to compare their experience to feedback they have received from other modules will provide comparison to a broader range of different feedback methods.