Looped feedback on student products

Subject: Media Studies, Journalism practice. Course: Practical Journalism Methods. Level: MA. Course size: 24.

Motivation for the activity

If I should give one-to-one feedback to all the weekly products that students create then there would be very little time left to prepare a weekly lecture. Secondly, the working environment of journalism, media and communications is geared towards group work and it's essential to implement product collaboration as part of the teachings.  

Central learning outcomes for the course

For the evaluation of examined work focus will be on whether the student:

  • Can use a relevant journalistic  method for a personal project.
  • Can judge limits of the students' own analysis and make an accurate conclusion.
  • Shows knowledge of the literature within this particular field of journalism studies.
  • Shows ability to formulate a relevant research question.
  • Can plan a relevant methodological design.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

  • To use each other as critics – and to use critique in practice.
  • To collaborate in groups.
  • To renew and better a written product.
  • Also: To learn to give good feedback.

Description of the activity

The activity span over three weeks – in which time is also spent on lecturing.

Week 1:

I ask the students to make a written product (in this case it was a news report on a PhD defense we went to, but it could be any written product).

The written products are uploaded to me online. I then print the written products out in two copies. One copy I write comments on myself, and the other copy I bring to the class.

Week 2:

In class I give a short lecture on the benefits of feedback – making clear that feedback should never be personal but text-based and constructive.

I put each student in groups of two – focusing on students not being in a group with whoever they sit next to as this may often be a close friend.

In each group I give the students back their written product without comments, and ask the students to give feedback on each-others' product.

In order to make the feedback as structured as possible I make a sheet outlining specific points that feedback should concentrate on.

Feedback take about fifteen minutes for each student (so 30 mins. in total). At the end of the students' feedback sessions I give back my comments to their product.

After the feedback, all students are asked to rewrite their product and upload it to our website within a day.

Week 3:

After I receive the rewritten pieces I print out one copy of each. Arriving to class I put the students in groups of two again. This time I specify that the students should form groups with whoever they sat next to at the time, making sure that they were not in a group with the same person as last week.

Now each student give 10 minutes feedback to each-others product according to the same sheet of feedback-points from last week. 

After the students' feedback sessions I give some overall points to the class about the rewritten products.

Outcome of the activity

After the first feedback session it was great to see how my comments were the same as the ones that the students had found in their own feedback session.

At the end of the three week exercise it was great to see how much better the students' products had become in the process, and also it transpired that students had become much better at giving constructive feedback.

Also, the exercise showed the students the benefit of using each other for feedback and constructive product-discussions. 

Reflections on the activity

The feedback takes a little time, but when evaluating the exercise with the students they were very positive about it, and said they had learnt much more about writing and giving feedback than they would if they had received lectures only.

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