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Visiting expert: Useful feedback supports learning

staff discussing at round tables
The participants discuss how different forms affect the feedback given. Photo: Kristina Lundholm Fors.

How does assessment affect students' learning? Professor Luke Dawson from the School of Dentistry in Liverpool confirms a clear connection between the type of assessment and the students' learning process.

One morning in April, about thirty people who teach at the faculty gathered to discuss how feedback to students using forms during clinical training can be made meaningful and useful. As an introduction, Professor Luke Dawson from the School of Dentistry in Liverpool spoke about how assessment affects learning: how we assess students drives their behavior, and the choices we make regarding assessment therefore need to be well thought out and well motivated. Luke shared his many years of experience in developing and using a system similar to QPS for feedback, and pointed out advantages and common pitfalls.

Luke Dawson lectures
Professor Luke Dawson lectures on how assessment affects learning. Photo: Kristina Lundholm Fors

To see how the feedback tool affects the feedback, the participants were asked to observe a student on film and provide feedback using different forms. Despite all having seen the same film, there were clear differences in the feedback given. Sara Wiberg, program director of the speech and language pathology programme, commented:
– All assessment forms have strengths and weaknesses, and it is useful to compare them. Previously, we have seen the shortcomings of our own forms but when we compare them, we also see the advantages they have relative to others.

The aim of the feedback is to support the students' learning. Maja Weimarsson, a term 10 medical student and today a moderator in one of the discussion groups, was asked what she wants to tell the other students in her programme after the day.
– There is a lot of frustration among the students as the feedback in the forms is often not meaningful or useful. At the same time, the useful feedback one receives is so very important! It is comforting to hear that there is so much work being done to improve the feedback.

Giving feedback with forms is one of many tools for assessment, and the long-term goal is to develop guiding principles for assessment at the faculty.

The QPS system is used at the Faculty and it enables students to follow their development during their education. Here, the feedback that students receive is also collected, and the engagement during this morning, organized by the MedCUL (The Centre for Teaching and Learning at the Faculty of Medicine) along with GUN (The Undergraduate Education Board) and students, shows that all involved are motivated to ensure that the feedback becomes increasingly useful.

More on QPS here