Feedback on written exercises in the course of the semester

Subject: Scandinavian Languages and Literature. Course: Theory and Method of Literature. Study level: Bachelor 2nd semester. Class size: approx. 30

Motivation

The students often do not read one another's assignments and do not consider each other's criticism to be usable. In addition, and just as importantly, it can facilitate the work of the lecturer with regard to correcting written exercises in the middle of a semester.

Central learning outcomes for the couse

To turn the students into good readers of literature and texts in general. To provide them with a qualified knowledge of literary methodologies and theories.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

The key is to give the students qualified feedback on their written exercises, so they become better writers and thus more precise readers of texts. This also means that the students gain experience among themselves in giving each other critical response and that they generally become accustomed to giving qualified comments on one another's texts.

Additionally, there is an increased awareness of the criteria for a good assignment: In other words, what is a good assignment?

The activity can typically be used in contexts where written exercises are used during the course of the semester.

Description of the activity

  1. The assignment is given
  2. The students are divided into groups of 3-4, in which they meet and discuss the assignment and the text or texts that they are to analyse
  3. The assignment paper is written
  4. They submit to each other online (in this case a common folder in First Class), but so that all including the lecturer can in principle see the papers
  5. They discuss the written exercises among themselves and choose which is to be sent to the lecturer
  6. Everyone reads the assignments that the groups have selected before we meet in class. Here there is feedback from the lecturer and general discussion of the exercise as a whole. Preferably just before the end of the semester, where they are to write a large 7-day assignment and many of the same things apply.

Additional

I set an assignment in which the students must carry out an analysis of a literary text - the same text for everyone.

Before they begin writing the assignment they meet one another to discuss the text in groups. They submit the text to one another in the groups, after which they, via discussion, find out which of the written exercises is to be "passed on" to me, the lecturer. This means that I ultimately only receive one assignment per group and not 30 assignments in total. Everyone does, however, submit their written exercises in the same folder, so that you can as lecturer check that everyone submits. All the members of the class can read the exercises in the folder.

I correct the 7-8 written exercises that I receive and use these as the basis for feedback to the whole class. Everyone reads these assignments before we go through them together in the lesson.

Before their discussion about which assignments should be “passed on” to the lecturer, it can be a good idea to introduce the students to which criteria you as a lecturer emphasise and furthermore, how to provide good, critical and constructive feedback to one another.

Benefits of the activity

Partly to save time in relation to correcting written exercises, and partly to make the students aware of the resources that they themselves mutually comprise. The effect is that the students become better to collaborate and less bashful in relation to allowing others to read their written assignments.

The students also become aware of their own criteria for a good assignment in relation to the lecturer's criteria, and thus more aware of what is expected of them as students.

Reflections on the activity

As lecturer you can choose to involve any student teachers in the course and e.g. let the students meet with the student teacher alone the first time that they discuss the assignment they have been set. The meeting in which they must choose the written assignment can also take place with supervision from a student teacher.

It is important to be aware that it is not always the best assignments that are passed on by the groups. The balance of power typically influences which assignments end up being "the chosen few". I therefore select a couple more myself as the basis for my feedback. Assignments that are in my eyes among the best assignments, but which have not been included in the students' selection.

You can actively include the experiences that the groups obtain during the discussions in the teaching. That is that they state the reasons why this or that assignment was passed on. Their discussions provide a good basis for further discussion in the class. Should this aspect succeed, you ought perhaps to ask the groups to take notes during the discussions, so that they can remember what was said and discussed.

Take care not to emphasize the competitive aspect too much. Play down the importance of having the written assignment corrected by a lecturer rather than "only" having it corrected by your fellow students. As a lecturer you can, for example, stress that it is not only the "best" assignments that are passed on, but also the most interesting, most daring, and maybe those that you might be most in doubt about as a student.

Stefan Kjerkegaard

Associate professor
M
H bldg. 1485, 322
P +4587163174
P +4560897380

Material for the activity

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