Whole Team Approach to Embedding a Culture of Feedback between Student & Staff Partners in First Year Chemistry

Heany, Frances, Rooney, Denise, Fenelon, Orla, Kraemer, Tobias, Dempsey, Eithne, Barret, Stephen, Boylan, Caytlin, Doherty, Kyle, Marchetti, Luke, Curran, Joe and Velasco-Torrijos, Trinidad (2020) Whole Team Approach to Embedding a Culture of Feedback between Student & Staff Partners in First Year Chemistry.


Feedback can be a very powerful tool for improving the student learning experience and for informing teaching practice (Al-Bashir, 2016). However, to maximize the impact on teaching, learning and course development such feedback must be gathered, analysed and the conclusions shared in a timely manner. Ad hoc approaches can lead to missed opportunities to effectively address challenges.
In this presentation we will discuss an innovative approach to developing a feedback culture with first year university chemistry students. Our approach, framed around laboratory practical and workshop activities, involved embedding a weekly feedback meeting into the course structure. It aimed to (i) educate students on the purpose and value of feedback (ii) identify the most effective feedback channels for experimental subjects and (iii) create a feedback culture with students as partners in the teaching and learning process. Weekly one hour sessions were scheduled for small groups (12 x ~25 students). Feedback facilitators (drawn from the department postgraduate cohort) liaised with teaching academics, technical and demonstrating staff to design a unique programme for each weekly class. Engagement software platforms included Padlet and anonymous in-class surveys/questionnaires. Each week facilitators completed templated documents summarising feedback on instructor and student led topics. Staff reviewed and reflected on same and took relevant action where appropriate and feasible. MS Teams
was used to host the weekly meetings and as a repository for the shared documents (Figure 1).
The innovation in our programme was to combine pre-lab/workshop content with post-lab academic feedback and in so doing to create, in each week of the semester, a structured, yet informal opportunity for students and facilitators to discuss and identify teaching and learning topics for development. This framework has allowed for timely identification of challenges faced by the students and has been especially valuable considering the particular difficulties faced in transitioning to university against the back drop of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our results highlight the affordances of feedback in shaping and improving the teaching and learning experience and the value of integrating robust feedback mechanisms directly into course structure.

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