Using audio email feedback in formative assessment

Spiers, Alex and Macgregor, George (2009) Using audio email feedback in formative assessment. In: A Word in Your Ear 2009, 2009-12-18 - 2009-12-18, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The importance of formative assessment in promoting student learning is well recognised within pedagogical communities of practice [1] and continues to be noted by researchers (e.g. [2, 3]). Formative assessment is specifically intended to produce feedback on student performance thereby improving and accelerating learning [1]. ‘Surface’ approaches to learning which often characterises other assessment approaches is discouraged and increased learning can be achieved [4]. Despite the importance ascribed to formative assessment, very few formative assessment opportunities are generally made available to students in HE [5]. A commonly cited reason for this is the limited time lecturers have within semester-based systems to produce and deliver the feedback necessary to affect changes in student learning behaviour, often within increasingly large student cohorts [3]. For ‘formative learning’ to occur and the benefits of formative assessment to be achieved, feedback needs to timely, relevant and delivered to students prior to summative assessment. Ameliorating the above stated problems in HE formative assessment therefore provides the motivation behind our work. A number of researchers have reported positively on the use of a variety of emerging technologies within HE formative assessment and feedback strategies [6, 7, 8]. In this paper we report on the use of audio email feedback as a means of delivering detailed formative feedback to students. In particular, we focus in the deployment of Wimba Voice [9] to deliver formative feedback as voice emails to level one undergraduate students studying within the domains of business and web technologies. Preliminary results of a formal evaluation of audio email feedback on student learning will also be summarised.