Monday, 11 March 2013

A1: Feedback at a distance: All ACTORS play a part

Lynn Boyle

This study was conducted by collecting qualitative and quantitative data from a group of students studying on a part time distance learning undergraduate degree programme in Childhood Practice. The students were asked about their perceptions and experiences of the feedback which was sent to them via e mail attachment. Many of the students had no opportunity for face to face discussion about their feedback due to the distance they were from the actual University. Previous studies on feedback and feedback in distance learning, have focussed on the timeliness and content of the feedback however this study was instrumental in considering the perceptions and experiences of the students in their receipt and understanding of the purpose and effect of the feedback which was received.

This paper aims to explore the elements or components involved in electronic delivery of feedback and the pedagogy behind this as an effective support and learning experience for tutors and students.

High quality effective feedback given to students may be considered as a significant learning tool which a student can receive to assist in their continuous learning journey. The impact and perception of the feedback given will influence self efficacy and motivation and will determine the effective application of the advice given. This paper will explore the perceptions of students on a distance learning BA Childcare Practice degree programme who indicated it is important the feedback reflects a personal interest in their practice and their learning. This paper investigates the impact of feedback on student's subsequent learning relating to the Actor-Network theory (ANT). The success of feedback is dependent on a number of components; a network of tutors, electronic delivery, sharing of the feedback with others, the storage and continuous accessibility of the feedback, the actual feedback sheet itself, critical feedback incidents and many other 'actor' components. All of the actor components will have an impact on the students and how they feel about their feedback. If one of the actor components or 'hybrid entities' is more powerful, non-functional or misconceived the feedback will not have the optimal impact or opportunities to be applied to future learning, making it obsolete.

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