Evaluating student perceptions of written and video feedback for their pharmacology laboratory reports

[Speaker] Elizabeth A Davis:1
[Co-author] Klaudia Budzyn:1, Barbara K Kemp-Harper:1, Gerry Rayner:2
1:Department of Pharmacology, Monash University, Australia, 2:Monash University Office of Learning and Teaching, Monash University, Australia

Background. Within undergraduate science and biomedical science courses, practical classes are considered an integral part of pharmacology curricula, and written laboratory reports form a primary method of assessing student skills in communication, data presentation and interpretation. Although academics aim to provide constructive feedback on these reports, anecdotal evidence is that suggestions for improvement are often not incorporated into future assessments, which could reflect us not sufficiently engaging students in the feedback process. Several reports have indicated that students engage better with alternative feedback formats, such as video. This study aimed to evaluate student perceptions of both written and video feedback.
Methods. Participants were undergraduate science students undertaking third year pharmacology units in semester 1 (n=79) or semester 2 (n=34), 2016. Each unit included several assessed practical reports that contributed to the student's overall mark for that unit. Feedback for reports in the semester 1 unit was provided in written format only, whereas feedback for reports in the semester 2 unit included both written and video formats. At the conclusion of each unit's practical teaching program, students were invited to complete an anonymous survey that asked about their perceptions of the feedback they received.
Results. In semester 1, students overwhelmingly (>90%) agreed that written feedback was useful for improving their future reports, and could be applied to other units of study (78%). Nearly 50% of respondents disagreed that they pay less attention to written feedback than when it is provided in person. Of the semester 2 respondents (who received multiple feedback formats), 74% indicated that video was easiest to understand, and 71% agreed that it gave the clearest indication of where improvements were needed. 85% of students indicated that they would be willing to receive video feedback for future assessment tasks.
Conclusions. Although students appear to value written feedback, their response to the video format was overwhelmingly positive. This raises the question of whether better engagement with feedback increases the likelihood of students acting on it. We are currently investigating whether the format of feedback influences whether students incorporate it into future assessment tasks.

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