How do I support my students and what are the opportunities for further improvement through digital technologies

When I think about how I support my students, the issue of mechanisms and methods for providing feedback are relevant; my recent experience of being a student again has reminded me of the anxiety that students face whilst preparing their assignments. Creating the opportunity for regular formative feedback is a fundamental aspect of any pedagogic design and will “explicitly help students complete summative assessment tasks” (Bloxham, 2015, p.112) without compromising learning, as there is often a reluctance amongst students to expose and therefore address holes in their knowledge when high stakes summative assessment is involved (Bloxham, 2009). Carefully constructed formative feedback can also help with motivation when you consider “The effort that students make towards achieving goals is affected by how they feel about those goals and how they perceive the likelihood of achieving those goals” (Irons, 2008, p.36). The positive comments I have received from students through MEQs indicate my students feel supported and motivated by the feedback approach I use in my face-face teaching but I have yet to explore the possibility of adapting/enhancing my methods in an online environment; this provides the focus for this post and resulting actions (UKPSF A3, A4, A5 & K5).

Because of the practical nature of my teaching almost every session involves me providing formative feedback; currently my only use of the VLE for feedback is to produce written summative reports at the end of semesters so I feel there is scope for me to further engage students through feedback using technology and the VLE medium. Mcarthy’s (2015, para.30) study into providing a variety of feedback methods to a group of 77 visual ‘Design Language in Media Arts ‘ students concluded that,  “For the students participating in this study, video feedback was viewed as the most beneficial because it provided more in-depth analysis of their academic performance in assignments, which were largely visual-based. The feedback model matched the format of the assessment.” A key point to note here is that the visual element of the video feedback was highlighted as a very efficient way to address the visual nature of the assignment. Given that most instrumental technique issues related to music performance require a visual demonstration for corrective measures to be fully understood, there is a strong argument for me to start to provide formative and summative video feedback through the VLE (UKPSF A3, A5, K1 ,K2, K3, K4 & V3).

I intend to integrate video feedback into my practice in conjunction with screen capture software, this will allow me to simultaneously demonstrate and refer to a musical score or assessment criteria whilst incorporating the principles of effective feedback for music teaching outlined in Harris’s (2009) ‘taxonomy of response’ (UKPSF A3, K1, K2, K4 & V3). The ‘diagnostic’ and ‘making a suggestion’ aspects of Harris taxonomy are much easier to communicate by providing very specific demonstrations using an instrument and the audio-visual capabilities of video. I also aim to channel the completely affirmative, qualified enthusiasm, question/discussion and observational responses to performances he outlines in positive way through the feedback. With students able to see my gestures and hear the tone of my voice, they will be able to clearly gauge my reaction to their performances; by maintaining an awareness of this connection I can use it offer encouragement and highlight positive aspects of their work (UKPSF A3, A4, K1, K2, K3 & K4). Seeing a teacher diligently reviewing work in this way can lead to a feeling of proximity with students;  Mathisen’s (2012, para.44) investigation into the use of screen capture found that “There is reason to claim that through the use of screen capture as a medium of feedback, a closeness desired by students is created with their teachers. This experience, combined with a feeling of capturing their teacher’s attention and becoming involved in their work, leads to motivation and effort.” With this clearly identified link between technology enhanced feedback and increased student motivation, I anticipate the introduction of my video feedback approach will increase the amount of support I offer my students in relation to assessment and motivate them to engage with a regular practice regime (UKPSF A2, A3, A4, A5, V3, K4 & K5).

 

Bloxham, S. (2015). Assessing assessment: new developments in assessment design, feedback practices and marking in higher education In H. Fry, S. Ketteridge & S. Marshall (Eds), A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Oxon: Routledge

Harris, P. (2012). The Virtuoso Teacher: the inspirational guide for instrumental and singing teachers. London: Faber (Kindle reader version 4.15.1) Retrieved from http://www.amazon.co.uk

Higher Education Academy. (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supported learning in higher education. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/ukpsf_2011_english.pdf

Irons, A., & Exely (Ed). (2008). Enhancing Learning through Formative Assessment and Feedback. Oxon:Routledge

Mathisen, P. (2012). Video Feedback in Higher Education – A Contribution to Improving the Quality of Written Feedback. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 7, 97-116. Retrieved from https://www.idunn.no/dk

McCarthy, J. (2015). Evaluating written, audio and video feedback in higher education summative assessment tasks. Issues in Educational Research, 25(2), 153-169. Retrieved from http://www.iier.org.au/iier25/mccarthy.html

 

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