Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Exploring the diversity of students’ interpretation of feedback: a tale of three students (#150)

Linda Corrin 1 , Paula de Barba 1
  1. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

The importance of feedback on students’ learning and motivation has long been acknowledged in educational research (Butler & Winne, 1995). The increased availability of data about how students are engaging with learning and assessment activities in higher education is enabling new ways of providing feedback to students. An increasing popular way to deliver this feedback is via a dashboard built into a learning management system. These dashboards generally display data about students’ performance in online activities and assessment as well as their engagement with online resources. While the visualisation of data in this format provides greater access for students’ to data about themselves, questions have been raised about how well students are able to interpret this data so they can identify changes to their study strategies to improve their academic performance (Corrin, Kennedy & Mulder, 2013; Wilson, 2012).

This showcase presents the findings of a study which examined the ways that students interpret feedback given to them via a dashboard. The dashboard feedback was given to two groups of students, one from a first year biology class (n=14) and the other from a second year Japanese language class (n=10), during the first semester of the 2014 academic year. A mixed methods approach was taken to collect data throughout the semester including an initial survey, two ‘think aloud’ interviews, and a final survey. In addition to the presentation of a general summary of the study findings, this showcase will profile three student participants whose cases demonstrate the diversity in ways that students interpret and act on the dashboard feedback. These cases will be used to highlight the need to support students to develop and enhance their approaches to learning in response to such feedback as well as considerations for the effective design of dashboards to provide meaningful and useful feedback to students.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This showcase relates to the conference theme of “Navigating uncertainty and complexity” as it demonstrates the diversity and complexity inherent in how students interpret and act upon feedback on their learning engagement and performance. As the ability to present feedback in this dashboard format becomes easier, it is important that we understand what support students need to help them modify their study strategies to achieve the best possible educational outcome. This study demonstrates the complex issues that need to be considered when implementing feedback delivery in this form in higher education. Moreover, this study highlights that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to student support may not accommodate the diversity encountered in students’ study approaches and motivation.

  1. Butler, D. L. & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and Self-Regulated Learning: A Theoretical Synthesis. Review of Education Research, 65(3), 245-281.
  2. Corrin, L., Kennedy, G., & Mulder, R. (2013). Enhancing learning analytics by understanding the needs of teachers. In H. Carter, M. Gosper & J. Hedberg (Eds.), Electric Dreams. Proceedings ascilite 2013 Sydney. (pp. 201-205).
  3. Wilson, A. (2012). Student engagement and the role of feedback in learning. Journal of Pedagogic Development, 2(1), 15-19.