Assessment and feedback has become a big focus for improvement at universities and the University of Essex has been ahead of the wave with their innovative use of an in-house online coursework submission service, originally implemented over 10 years ago. In November 2012, they started work on the Making Electronic Feedback Effective (MEFE) project which aims to build upon this service and provide an excellent educational experience for students.
The project was created in response to three factors – user demand for improvement of the existing service, the institution’s focus on improving student achievement and satisfaction through assessment and feedback and the nationwide research and development in this area. The Jisc assessment and feedback programme kick-started the planning of MEFE, which evolved over time and is now a key part of the University’s engagement with the Leadership Foundation’s Changing the Learning Landscape programme.
So far, the project has provided plenty of flexible feedback functionality, including multiple document uploading of any type, in-browser text, audio and document annotation and the ability to feed back to individuals, groups or entire cohorts. Students can see all of their coursework submissions, feedback and marks for current and previous years’ modules all in one place. Development of this first half of the project was guided by the supporting evidence from Jisc and other universities that students gain an enormous amount from electronic feedback (re-readability, ease of access, personal feel of audio) and that technology can provide staff with the opportunity to deliver feedback efficiently in a way that suits them.
One bold move that has been taken is to integrate the in-house system with alternative external software for similarity checking and in-browser marking – delegates may be interested in how the use of two tools, Crocodoc and Ephorus, are being trialled and have led to a very slick user interface whilst retaining the software stability expected at Essex.
With the project extended for another year to June 2015, there are some even more exciting developments on the horizon. Aggregation of feedback will provide students with a more holistic view of the feedback they receive leading to more informed personal development, and markers will have the ability to compare and contrast feedback across assessments, modules and years of study. Mark and feedback entry and moderation will be entirely handled through the system and full support for mobiles and tablets is on its way. There is also current investigation into developing online marking grids that could be used for both coursework and exam grading and a timeline for planning course assessment structure – ideas that wouldn’t have come about without the cross-university partnerships set up to manage the MEFE project.
Research evidence shows that Making Electronic Feedback Effective could have a significant impact on students’ success and chances of prosperous future employment. This talk will tell you the story behind MEFE, from its humble beginnings to the institution-wide wave of change in assessment and feedback practices it has become the catalyst for today.
|Affiliation||University of Essex|