Peer feedback with the Text Feedback Game

Subject: Digital Design. Course: Bachelor’s project. Study level: Bachelor 5th semester. Class size: approx. 20.

Motivation for the activity

The practical educational challenge with peer feedback in the teaching is that students rarely have understood how you can make use of one another meaningfully to become academically stronger and also become better at communicating those academic skills.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

To train skills in giving/receiving response to and from others, as well as through this reflecting on one’s own process and subject in an equals process and subject.

By systematically applying peer feedback I wish to train the students’ skills in providing response to others and thereby reflecting on their own process and subject in a process involving equals.

Description of the activity

See the Game and rules pamphlet for general instructions and suggestions for staging.

I use peer feedback in other courses than the BA project, but here the explicit purpose with the use of peer feedback and the feedback game is that that students should learn from each other's problems. I therefore divide them into groups according to which challenges I can see they have from reading their submissions. It may be e.g. that some students have problems with their empirical data, with being theoretical enough or with other general things. I can also divide some into groups according to topic and others according to challenges. Here you must use your intuition, but I have good experience of dividing them into groups that are not based on topics but rather other criteria.

Timetable, if teaching is on Friday morning

  • The students submit text (max. 2 pages) at noon on Wednesday.
  • I read the submissions on Wednesday and divide them up into the feedback groups for the week.
  • On Wednesday afternoon/evening they receive a list of the week’s groups (typically four per group), and can then distribute their assignments themselves. This gives them a day for preparation, but also ensures that the texts they submit and receive feedback on are very new.

My general instructions are as follows:

"It is IMPORTANT that you all prepare thoroughly for the feedback to the others in the group - otherwise it is simply a waste of time for everyone. You should read each text twice. You could for example read all submissions first and take some notes along the way, then take a break and read them all again while sorting out your notes. That is typically what you do if you read texts 'professionally', for example as I read texts. It should take you 40-60 minutes per two-page text (including two readings).

Outcome of the activity

It is quite clear that the students who participate only by reading one another's texts with a view to providing feedback, become far better at understanding their own role as an academic writer. The assignment’s communication of their academic knowledge appears to be better. They also become less 'vulnerable' in regard to their own text and are not so afraid to just write and share this with others while editing.

So peer feedback works to help create students who are more aware of how they communicate the knowledge that they have. The Feedback Game also helps to maintain the structure and thus to make it easy for the students to 'get into character' when they give feedback: The relationship between the domineering and the reluctant student types is reduced and everyone is given an equal 'right' to speak. When they have used it a couple of times, they sometimes relax the rules of the game, but they are good at complying with the structure and maintaining focus.

How to borrow the game

Lecturers from Arts, AU who wish to use the game in their teaching can borrow the game without cost from the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media.

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Lone Koefoed Hansen

Associate professor