Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Using Technology to Provide Enriched Feedback on Student Coursework
Originator John McKendrick
Department School of Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, 70 Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow, G4 0BA, UK
Tel. +44 (0)141 331 3492
Fax +44 (0)141 331 3439


With an increasing volume of coursework to review, together with existing work pressures, the author recognised the need to devise an efficient method for providing richer feedback on student coursework. In 1995, audio technology was used to communicate comments on course work (essays, research plans, questionnaires, interview schedules) completed by single-honours students as part of their dissertation research training.

Key features:

  1. Tutees are allocated their own tape for coursework comments, which are kept by the tutor to allow details of journal articles and books to be recorded.
  2. The tutor records comments relating to coursework on the student's tape. Each new comment is numbered in the margin of the essay to ensure the student can immediately link the comment to the text. Details of journal articles and books the tutor has identified which might be of relevance to the student's project are included.
  3. The tutee returns the tape to the tutor after listening to the comments.


The innovation was praised by all students. Students valued the comments and also felt valued. Audio feedback personalised the comments and was considered to do justice to the efforts the students had invested in the coursework/assignment.

Key benefits:

This mode of communication offers the opportunity for richer commentary both in quantitative and qualitative terms. By using tapes it is possible for the tutor to make more extensive comments in the time it would normally take to provide shorter written comments. Academics can improve the service they provide without any intolerable increase in workload.


Addressing the student - the opportunity to personalise the comments should be used by talking to the student using his/her name when making observations and offering advice.

Awareness of medium - when making comments, it must be remembered that the immediacy of the medium tends to exaggerate the message - this is not so much a problem with compliments, but worth noting when making criticisms.

Equipment - Staff and students require tape recorders/Dictaphones and need privacy to make comments. This can be difficult in a shared office or on the train.


Audio feedback
Audio technology
Student feedback

This is one of the case studies which appears in the GDN Guide "Assessment in Geography"

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