Can we help students use their feedback? 

Assessment Feedback Assistant has at its core the idea that students want to be able to use their feedback to develop their skills.  

The concept 

Our concept is for a tool that gathers feedback from digital systems so the student can see it in one place.  

The tool could notify the student when they have new feedback to address. We see students reflecting on the feedback they’ve received. We may add a feature so they can make their own assessment of what they need to improve and how to do that. The tool could keep track of which feedback they have addressed and what they need to consider ahead of a future assessment. It will connect them to institutional learning resources that can help them upskill. 

The proof of concept 

Our last blog resulted in several expressions of interest. Over the past 6 months we’ve been talking to students and staff in over 20 UK HE and FE institutions, gathering ideas for features and gathering evidence on whether students would use and find the tool useful if we were to develop it.  

This “proof of concept” phase is essential in product development. It’s allowed us to test our assumptions about how people would use the tool, and incorporate it into their day-to-day practice, as well as identify barriers and unforeseen risks. 

There are two parts to our proof of concept: we’ve successfully gathered evidence that students both need and want a product like this; now we need to prove we can deliver a working app. 

Who wants it and when? 

We have had universal support for the idea. Everyone we’ve spoken to has seen merit in enhancing the use of feedback to improve student outcomes.  

We found that students collect and use their feedback in diverse ways. Some will review feedback straight away, to reflect on the work done and see if there are immediate issues to address. Others wait to look at feedback until the next assignment is due. We spoke to more than one individual who were developing their own record of their feedback, on paper, or by keeping digital files of feedback comments.   

Students at Nottingham University said it would be “…useful to check what you struggled with previously at a revision stage before an exam” and “It can be annoying to find feedback now, so this would be helpful”. Leeds Trinity students commented that the app would be “…good for keeping track of progression and where you’ve improved” and thought that it was “useful to collate [feedback] all in one place”.

Moving on 

Next, we need to prove that the idea can work with the data institutions are generating. We need to be able to access various Learning Management Systems (LMS) and extract the feedback so that we can aggregate and organise it, as well as find ways to link it to relevant resources for further learning. 

In the first instance we are working with a small set of institutions who are using different LMS. If we can prove the concept works functionally, then we expect to build a working app that institutions will be able to pilot. If you’d like to be added to our growing list of potential pilots, please get in touch by emailing and mentioning the project. 

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