Blended Feedback: Delivery of feedback as digital audio on a computer programming unit
Start date: 4 September 2013
Traditionally students are taught in a classroom, lecture theatre, or laboratory, by staff. They are encouraged to question, discuss, and participate in learning activities maximizing learning potential and to engage in dialogue as a means of monitoring understanding. Staff use a variety of technological aids to assist in the learning process and thus provide a blended learning approach (meanwhile offering a diverse student body greater opportunity to engage). However, feedback on assessments is still largely delivered as the written word even though academics and students believe that assessment provides notification of the quality of work. Students are thus treated as distance learners with no requirement to acknowledge receipt or understanding. They are given comments, which they are expected to interpret and action independently.
Student engagement on a programming unit was previously improved by setting many small assignments throughout the academic year. Student attitudes towards this assessment style were positive as they began to realise the benefits of regular practice over time. However staff became aware that they were writing the same comments on work for the same students week after week, and students were not engaging with feedback.
Hence this work begins to explore the use of audio feedback alongside the traditional written word to understand how blended feedback could assist in the comprehension of programming code to novice programmers. A pilot study is conducted as a first step with mixed results. Audio feedback was popular with students and 80% would prefer audio feedback in future although 60% felt that it would not improve their future learning.