Audio feedback can provide an efficient, personalised experience for markers and students.
Providing audio feedback to students has been shown to have several advantages:
- Allows students to pick up on tone of voice
- Avoids legibility issues versus handwriting
- Is often more detailed and in-depth than text
- Can feel more personal to students than text
- Can be quicker than writing summary feedback
- Allows for two markers to record a discussion
- Can be accessed by students easily from anywhere
- Not as limiting as boxes in a feedback form
- Can be more directed/focused as teacher needs to be concise as cannot reformulate (i.e. cannot delete and rewrite)
- Provides fluidity and immediacy, portraying meaning through intonation and sentence stress
Best Practice Tips
Rationale and practicalities
- If you are considering using audio feedback, be clear with yourself and your students as to why you are giving feedback in this format (even if it is just because it is quicker for you to do). Allow students to ask any questions about accessing the feedback, etc.
- Audio feedback generally works best as feedback on the whole assignment (screencast feedback is better for commenting on specific elements). Make sure that you know how you will give feedback on the script/submission (if applicable) in addition to the overall audio feedback.
- Test the system that you will be using to provide audio feedback in advance: make sure that it works; make sure that you know how to use it; make sure that students will be able to use it; make sure that second markers, moderators and external examiners will be able to access it. For example, Turnitin offers up to three minutes of audio recording within its marking platform.
Recording the feedback
- As a general rule, audio feedback should not exceed five minutes.
- As with text-based feedback, ensure that you explicitly address the assessment criteria as well as discussing tangible pathways for development.
- Audio feedback can allow you to briefly provide examples of what you are describing to help the student understand your critique.
- Recording audio feedback can help students pick up on your positive tone of voice, but can of course reveal to them negative overtones as well. When providing audio feedback, talk as if the student was in the room with you: Put to one side any frustrations that you had while reading the assignment and focus on constructively helping the student to improve.
- If two markers are having a discussion about the assignment as audio feedback, use the image of the student there with you as well. This type of feedback can help the student see that there is more than one interpretation of their work, but on the other hand can come across as two people ‘talking about them’ without their being able to respond. See the next point…
- Audio feedback can also be used to spur an asynchronous discussion between the marker and the student if this is not practical to do in a face-to-face context. Online tools (such as discussion boards) that allow for audio recording can facilitate a quick, informal exchange.
- As with any feedback conversation, students would need to be clear that they are not participating to argue for a higher mark on the one hand, or to simply sponge up some advice for next time on the other, but to engage in an academic conversation that will contribute to their short- and long-term development.
Further Reading and Resources
Hepplestone, S., Holden, G., Irwin, B., Parkin, H.J. and Thorpe, L. (2011) ‘Using technology to encourage student engagement with feedback: a literature review’, Research in Learning Technology, 19(2), 117-127.