How Does Formative, Written Feedback Help Students Improve Their Geographical Writing, pp. 7 of 17

Data Collection Procedure

The assignment was given out to the entire cohort of 200 students as part of their continual assessment, with only the final submission assessed with grades. However data was only collected from four classes, contributing a sample of 75 students, which the members of this action research team personally taught, and so more detailed quantitative and qualitative data was obtained from this group. A mixture of quantitative data as well as qualitative data was collected to give a fuller picture of the role and relevance of written feedback, primarily from the perspective of the target audience, the students. These include:

  1. An online written survey seeking both quantitative indicators of prevalence of views and attitudes about the intervention
  2. A focused group discussion of a selection of the sample
  3. Samples of the students’ work and written feedback received

The online survey was distributed via the school’s learning management system for ease of dissemination and data collation. The purpose of this survey was to find out students’ perception of the quality of our written feedback, as well as their views on the design of the task. The survey consisted of 4 Likert-type scale questions on respondents’ views of the intended functions of the feedback cover page, 4 ranking questions asking respondents to judge the feedback they received based on 4 criteria (‘clarity of phrasing’, ‘usefulness for improvement’, ‘level of encouragement’ and ‘level of detail’), and 2 open ended questions asking respondents what they felt could be improved about the feedback given.

Further qualitative data was obtained through a focused group discussion (FGD) carried out after analysis of the online survey, which highlighted key discussion areas that needed further elaboration and deeper enquiry. Twenty students were selected for the FGD through stratified random sampling from the classes taught by the authors. The basis for stratification was the grades attained by the students for their final submission: group 1 consisted of 10 students who attained grades above B4, and group 2 consisted of 10 students who attained grades B4 or lower. The students were thus divided into 2 groups of 10 students to see if there was a correlation between student perception and approach to the task, and their eventual performance. For each group, one tutor facilitated the discussion with another tutor observing and making a video recording of the meeting.

Data Analysis and Key Findings

The analyses of the quantitative and qualitative data involved descriptive statistics, with general trends and prevalence acknowledged in terms of majority occurrences. Given the nature and objective of this action research, this is adequate for gleaning key findings for further discussion.

Quantitative Survey

A few key patterns were observed from the quantitative analysis of the written survey. Firstly, as represented in Figure 3 below, the students’ perception of the timeliness, positivity and usefulness of the written feedback was generally postive.

Related Teaching Materials

Annex419.06 KB

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!