Facilitating formative feedback: an undervalued dimension of assessing doctoral students' learning

van Rensburg, Henriette and Danaher, Patrick Alan (2009) Facilitating formative feedback: an undervalued dimension of assessing doctoral students' learning. In: ATN Assessment Conference 2009: Assessment in Different Dimensions: A Conference on Teaching and Learning in Tertiary Eduacation, 19-20 Nov 2009, Melbourne, Australia.

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Abstract

The provision of effective formative feedback is a crucial element of enacting quality learning and teaching at all levels of education. In the context of assessing doctoral students’ learning, this provision is often unstated and hence undervalued, overshadowed by the formal processes associated with the confirmation of candidature and the examination of the dissertation. Yet those formal processes are unlikely to be successful unless the student’s supervisors present helpful feedback on draft versions of the confirmation proposal and dissertation chapters. This paper focuses on the strategies used by the authors in providing feedback on the written work of their doctoral students, and in so doing elicits some of the underlying educational principles framing that provision. Those principles derive from aspects of the authors’ separate and shared value systems and worldviews, thereby constituting an individualised and even idiosyncratic approach to presenting feedback. In order to link the authors’ feedback strategies and principles with the wider imperatives of current practices of doctoral student provision, they are analysed in terms of Lee’s (2008) typology of research supervision approaches: functional, enculturation, critical thinking, emancipation and relationship development. Each approach exhibits a different understanding of the student–supervisor relationship and hence of the function of feedback within that relationship. Yet seeking means to distil and deploy the strengths of each type of supervision and feedback is one way to enhance the provision of such feedback. More broadly, the authors highlight an uneasy but necessary set of tensions attending the student–supervisor relationship, including the provision of feedback: between professional self and personal self; between dependence and independence; and between systemic pressures and individual innovation. Acknowledging the disciplinary, methodological and paradigmatic contexts is also important in maximising the quality of such feedback and enhancing the value of this vital dimension of assessing doctoral students’ learning.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: No evidence of copyright restrictions.
Depositing User: Dr Henriette Janse van Rensburg
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2010 05:19
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:53
Uncontrolled Keywords: assessment, doctoral students, formative feedback, student–supervisor relationship.
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/8003

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