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Using technology to provide feedback

Substantial developments in educational technology allow staff to speed up feedback provision, to provide more detailed feedback and to encourage greater engagement of students with the feedback process.

Virtual Learning Environments@ envelope

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), such as Blackboard, can be used to provide generic and individual feedback. For written assignments VLEs are probably of most use in providing generic comments, which can be posted so that students from the entire module are able to read them.

Email feedback

Email can be a simple and effective way of providing students with feedback. The level of email feedback can vary. Some staff simply provide generic comments to a whole group, which would work well when teaching large groups; whilst others send electronic versions of the feedback forms giving individual feedback to each student.

Audio feedback

Audio feedback can be made available to students in a variety of formats, and is an ideal tool for providing generic feedback. Once an audio feedback system is in place, it has the potential to save staff valuable time whilst still providing quality feedback to students. The 'Sounds Good Project', which is based at Leeds Metropolitan University, has been researching the benefits of this method of providing feedback. Bob Rotheram offers practice tips (see podcast 23 on the Sounds Good Project website) on the use of audio for assessment feedback.

The Sounds Good project has put together some advice on using audio feedback:

Using screen capture software

Screen capture software can offer an innovative way of providing feedback to students on essays and reports. The essay or report can be opened by the marker on their computer. The screen capture software then acts like a video camera, recording the assignment as the marker highlights aspects of the work while making audio comments.

Personal Response Systems

Personal Response Systems (PRS) are small, hand-held devices that allow you to instantly survey students' understanding and subsequently adapt your teaching and feedback in response. As a consquence they are ideal for providing generic feedback. PRS have been used by the University of Reading Chemistry Department in Part One classes to gauge students' understanding of principles and theories within the lecture. By asking a few carefully worded multiple choice questions, staff and students can rapidly gauge understanding.

Best practice guides at Sheffield Hallam

Sheffield Hallam University has produced a series of best practice guides about the use of technology to help students engage with feedback. These include the online publication of grades and feedback, the adaptive release of grades and a tool linking feedback to learning outcomes.


1. Merry, S. and Orsmond, P. (2008) Students' attitudes to and usage of academic feedback provided via audio files (PDF - 320KB). Bioscience Education, 11, 11-3. Cf. Merry, S. and Orsmond, P. (2007) Feedback via MP3 audio files, UK Centre for Bioscience Bulletin, no. 22.

2. Kerr, W. and McLaughlin P. (2008) The Benefit of Screen Recorded Summaries in Feedback for Work Submitted Electronically. CAA Conference.

3. McLaughlin, P. (2009) eFeedback Gets Personal. UK Centre for Bioscience Bulletin, No. 28. Autumn. 3.

4. Page, E. (2009) Using PRS in teaching. Teaching Matters, Spring 2009, Issue 19.

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See also

  • Centre for the Development of Teaching and Learning

Recent developments in feedback Recent news and case srudies about feedback


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