Understand, Engage, Act focuses specifically on developing feedback literacy where both teachers and students share a common understanding of effective feedback practice (see Evans, 2013, 2016; Wong, 2019) with each playing a vital, but distinct, role in the feedback process.
This approach builds on a wealth of research highlighting that for feedback to support student learning, it is critical that students actively engage with and act on it (Winstone and Nash, 2016), acknowledging that barriers, such as not understanding or knowing how to interpret feedback, often mean students feel unable to act (Jonsson, 2013).
Developing students’ ability to take an active role in the feedback process should equip them to become self-regulating, independent learners. Simultaneously, the staff role becomes less about being the sole provider of feedback comments, and more one that supports students’ understanding and engagement with a range of feedback opportunities.
Developing feedback literacy in practice
Understand, Engage, Act initially ran as a 2020/21 TDF project which brought students and staff together to uncover differences in their experiences and expectations of assessment feedback.
The project involved initial staff and student surveys to ascertain perceptions of the feedback process, using the findings to inform discussion between students and staff at a series of workshops. Across these workshops, students and their teaching staff worked together to identify opportunities within unit learning and teaching activity to develop feedback literacy.
Key to the UEA approach is allowing space for students to talk, discuss, ask questions, and practice in a supported environment. This can take place in a variety of fora, including as part of scheduled teaching sessions or as specific workshops. This dialogue underpins each of the three stages detailed below.
The following are examples of how the Understand, Engage, Act approach and resources were used to enhance feedback practice:
Staff and students used workshop spaces to discuss expectations around feedback, finding the feedback matrix resource particularly beneficial for stimulating awareness of each others’ perspectives. The co-created action plan identified existing planned feedback opportunities, making small but impactful changes based on student input.
From dialogue around expectations of feedback practice, staff and students identified a desire to better utilise peer feedback activity. This was a new feedback activity in the unit. The action plan detailed what role staff would take to set-up the activity, and alongside this the expectations on students to engage with this opportunity.
Although this was offered as an optional feedback opportunity, there was a good uptake across the cohort. The peer feedback activity was considered successful and has been offered to subsequent cohorts
If you’d like to know more about the project or how you can make use of the Understand, Engage, Act approach in your teaching then please get in touch with Dr Robert Eaton, Dr Karen Angus-Cole, or Prof John Chew (project leads).
Lessons learned from the UEA approach have informed our feedback guidance on the CLT Hub and project staff have been sharing their experiences at departmental community of practice and teaching strategy events.
Understand, Engage, Act has been presented at a range of internal and external events, including:
- ChemEng Day 2022, UCL
- AdvanceHE Teaching and Learning Conference 2022: Teaching in the spotlight: Where next for enhancing student success? Northumbria University
Watch our project update given as part of the CLT Lunchtime Hub series in March 2021.
Carless, D. and Boud, D. (2018) ‘The development of student feedback literacy: Enabling uptake of feedback’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(8), pp. 1315-1325. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2018.1463354