The medium is not the message: an action research project on the use of recorded audio feedback.

Dennison, David (2016) The medium is not the message: an action research project on the use of recorded audio feedback. In: HEA Arts & Humanities Conference, 3-4 March 2016, Brighton, UK.

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Feedback to students remains a contentious issue for both staff and learners:
“the UK-wide National Student Survey has shown consistently that feedback is an area in which students are often least satisfied, irrespective of institution or discipline” (Rodway-Dyer et al, 2011)

“Feedback on students’ work is, probably, one of the most important aspects of learning, yet students’ report, according to the National Union of Students (NUS) Survey of 2008, unhappiness with the feedback process” (Lunt & Curran, 2010)

“... teaching staff complain about lack of student engagement with feedback and a loss of connection with students” (Cann, 2014)

This paper presents a case study carried out with first year undergraduate students to compare and contrast the use of audio feedback and text-based feedback. (“Audio feedback may be defined as a digital sound file containing formative or summative verbal feedback given by the tutor”. Hennessy & Forrester, 2014).

Shriver (1992) has suggested that recordings of spoken feedback can be used as “think-aloud reading” and help students to focus on the impressions their writing gives to the reader. This research was directed towards writing skills but other research e.g. Lunt & Curran (2010) indicated that audio feedback had been favourably tested by students in business and tourism. Rodway-Dyer et al (2011) tested similar ideas with geography students and met with a largely positive response.

Other research has suggested that the issue is not so clear-cut: “some [students] found the richness of the audio feedback a precursor to even greater effort, some students pointing out forcefully that its pro-social nature created an affective relationship, whilst others found it at best, redundant in terms of its cognitive effects, and at worst, an intrusive and unwelcome intimate obstruction to understanding.” (Gleaves & Walker, 2013)

The study carried out in BA(Hons) Photography suggests that not all students see a benefit in audio feedback but that it may have a role within the curriculum as part of a broader feedback strategy.

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