Making non-textual formative feedback useful

Fiona Fairlie, Diane Joyce

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Non-textual feedback plays an important role in formative assessment. In art and design education, there is an established tradition of using tutor or peer 'critiques'. Participants use sketches, annotations and verbal comments, to record feedback. Subsequently, through a process of reflection and iteration, students have opportunities to revise and improve their work. NSS data (HEFCE, 2014) indicates that feedback is the area that least satisfies students. Formative non-textual feedback frequently takes place in informal contexts and may not always be recognised by students. Capturing this feedback and subsequently making it available to students may facilitate recognition. Current technologies have the potential to do this but there has been limited use in an academic context to date. This project aimed to investigate sustainable strategies for capturing non-textual feedback minimising workload for the staff involved. The acceptability of different feedback capture methods, desired distribution methods and the availability of devices and technology were investigated with staff and students. Preliminary development activities centred on students' capture, storage and reflection on feedback. However, it was recognised that staff control of captured and stored feedback in a recognised university system was preferable. These investigations identified that capture methods used must be widely available tolerated by participants; unobtrusive; have ability to store formative feedback locally; be able to distribute feedback to other digital systems; have ability to integrate feedback with student work and have the capacity for digital note taking, voice recording and image capture. As modern smartphones and tablets allow the integration of these features, a mobile application was developed. This application allowed feedback to be distributed using a number of methods and stored to facilitate reflection. During trials, the university email system was the most frequently chosen method of distribution. Preliminary testing in a classroom situation indicates that the application has potential and further development into a more extensive and integrated system is being undertaken.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 14th European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL 2015)
    EditorsMarija Cubric, Amanda Jefferies
    PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
    Number of pages4
    ISBN (Electronic)9781910810712
    ISBN (Print)9781910810705
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2015
    Event14th European Conference on e-Learning - University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom
    Duration: 29 Oct 201530 Oct 2015

    Publication series

    ISSN (Print)2048-8637
    ISSN (Electronic)2048-8645


    Conference14th European Conference on e-Learning
    Abbreviated titleECEL 2015
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Digital recording
    • Formative assessment
    • Non-textual feedback
    • Reflection

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Computer Science
    • Education


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