Written feedback: Exploring the reflections of year seven music students in a Perth college.
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Feedback to students is often identified as being a critical element of teaching, learning and assessment. It is also recognised as having a powerful effect on student learning and achievement. Much research has been conducted into what constitutes effective feedback. Yet in spite of this existing knowledge, evidence suggests that feedback continues to be poorly received and infrequently used by students. This anomaly raises important questions relating to how students understand and respond to feedback. This paper will present the findings of a pilot project that sought to explore this anomaly. The pilot project was a small-scale action research study that was conducted with ten Year Seven music students from an independent college in Western Australia. Students were required to submit a music history/appreciation project for assessment as part of the normal teaching and learning program. Task-oriented written feedback was provided by the teacher during the completion of the project and after the submission of the project. Students’ reflections and responses to both rounds of teacher feedback were collected through the use of a feedback reflection questionnaire. This questionnaire was based on Quinton and Smallbone’s (2010) framework and contained six open-ended items. Items were designed to elicit students’ affective and cognitive responses to the feedback they received. Student work was also collected to provide supplementary data and to verify how students acted upon feedback. Data generated from the study were inductively and thematically analysed following an interpretative approach. Findings from the study revealed three key themes: students reflect on and respond to feedback based on 1) personal features, 2) task perceptions and 3) individual choices. The cognitive decisions that Year Seven students made when receiving and responding to feedback was a noteworthy finding. Due to the nature of the study, it is acknowledged that students’ awareness of the research focus may have influenced their subsequent responses to the feedback they received. This was a consideration in the interpretation of the results. The paper will elaborate on the three key themes that emerged from the study. It will also address implications for classroom practice and make recommendations for future research.
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