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Use of feed-forward mechanisms in a novel research-led module

Morrell, Lesley J.



I describe a novel research-led module that combines reduced academic marking loads with increased feedback to students, and allows students to reflect on and improve attainment prior to summative assessment. The module is based around eight seminar-style presentations (one per week), on which the students write 500-word ‘news & views’ style articles (short pieces highlighting new results to a scientific audience). Students receive individual written feedback (annotated electronically on the work), plus an indicative mark, on their first submitted report. For subsequent reports, only a subset is marked each week, such that each student receives feedback on two further submissions. Simultaneously, they have access to written feedback on their peers’ reports (a total of two reports per student enrolled on the module). Students are encouraged to read and apply the general and specific messages from all the feedback to their own subsequent work (using it as feed-forward). At the end of the module, students self-assess their eight submissions and select the two they believe are their best pieces to put forward for summative assessment. Combining data from three cohorts, student attainment increased throughout the module, with higher marks for the two chosen reports than for the two marked reports or their first report. Students selecting previously unmarked reports also showed a greater increase in their mark for the module than students selecting reports that had previously received a mark. Module evaluation forms revealed that the students found access to feedback on others’ work helpful in shaping their own assignments.


Morrell, L. J. (2014). Use of feed-forward mechanisms in a novel research-led module. Bioscience education e-journal BEE-j, 22(1), 70-81.

Online Publication Date Dec 15, 2015
Publication Date 2014-07
Deposit Date Apr 13, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 13, 2015
Journal Bioscience education
Print ISSN 1479-7860
Electronic ISSN 1479-7860
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Pages 70-81
Keywords Formative assessment; Summative assessment; Feedback; Feed-forward; Workload
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article: Lesley J. Morrell: (2014) Use of Feed-forward Mechanisms in a Novel Research-led Module. Bioscience Education 22(1), 70-81. DOI: 10.11120/beej.2013.00020


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